Controversial measure would require DNA sampling at arrest
Now think about this and read well before you reply..
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Suspects arrested for everything from shoplifting to violent felonies would be ordered to give a DNA sample before they are convicted if a controversial proposal is approved by the Legislature.
OLYMPIA — Suspects arrested in cases as minor as shoplifting would have to give a DNA sample before they are even charged with a crime if a controversial proposal is approved by the Legislature.
State criminal defense groups and the American Civil Liberties Union say the House bill is unconstitutional. It would mandate that police or jail staff collect DNA from all adults and juveniles arrested on suspicion of a felony or gross misdemeanor.
More than a dozen states already allow law enforcement to collect DNA from suspects before they are convicted. Three more states, including Washington, are considering such proposals this year.
"It is good technology. It solves crimes," said Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, which has long pushed for DNA tests at the time of arrest. "We take fingerprints at the time of arrest, which in many ways is a lot more intrusive."
Currently, police in Washington state collect DNA from people convicted of a felony and many misdemeanor sex-related crimes after they are sentenced. Police must get a search warrant or permission from the suspect to obtain DNA before a conviction.
The sample usually is taken by swabbing the inside of a person's cheek.
A separate bill in the Senate also would allow for DNA collection before conviction — but only after formal charges are filed.
The House bill, HB-1382, is sponsored by Rep. Mark Miloscia, D- Federal Way. He testified in support of his bill Tuesday before the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. The committee could vote on the measure as early as today.
"This bill would take the next step in the use of DNA technology to help catch individuals who have gone out and harmed people," Miloscia said.
The DNA would be submitted to the State Patrol and the FBI databases, which are used to match suspects with unsolved crimes. Under the bill, authorities would destroy samples and DNA profiles obtained from people who weren't charged, were found not guilty or whose convictions were overturned.
Miloscia said each DNA test costs $82. A rough estimate shows the program could cost $1 million over two years.
Miloscia suggested that the state could apply for federal money to help cover the cost, and legislative staff said fees charged to certain criminals also could offset the cost. Prosecutors, however, said only a small percentage of those ordered to pay the fees actually do.
Jack King, staff attorney for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Washington, D.C., said his organization has been fighting similar DNA-collection proposals since 2004.
"DNA samples reveal the most personal, private information about a person's physical and mental makeup," King said. "It is terribly unfair to an arrestee."
King said he believes that seizing biological evidence before conviction violates constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
Shankar Narayan, legislative director of the ACLU of Washington, said Miloscia's bill "takes the presumption of innocence and turns it on its head."
"The fact is that a lot of people who are arrested aren't charged with anything. Even people who are charged might never be convicted," Narayan said.
Pierce, the executive director of the sheriffs and police chiefs association, said he believes the bill's passage will hinge on funding and the ability of the Washington State Patrol to process the samples. The patrol's crime lab has long faced a backlog of work.
Sen. Debbie Regala, a Tacoma Democrat who's a sponsor of the Senate DNA bill, said routinely collecting DNA at the time of arrest is worrisome.
Unlike the House bill, which would increase the number of crimes that require DNA collection, SB-5026 would take samples only in cases already outlined under the existing state statute.
Regala expects her bill will pass through committee in the coming days. The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys supports the Senate measure; the ACLU opposes the bill.
It's good and bad. Feels like big brother, but in a way, I'd say it has way more positives to find criminals. People who engage in this type of behavior once are likely to engage in it again. People who alter their physical appearance and things like that to avoid capture in the future have a much higher chance of being identified.
Sounds like a good idea to me. Build up the DNA database and criminals will be a lot easier to catch. Hell, I wouldn't care if they start swabbing and databasing every new born baby or hospital patient while they're at it. Get EVERYBODY in the database.
Then, let's see someone commit a crime without leaving behind ANY evidence that will get them caught.
Heck yeah! I love my big brother!!
Convicted of a violent crime? Sounds good. For an arrest? No way. Getting arrested for forgetting to pay a ticket and driving on a suspension doesn't mean you should be entered into a criminal database.
Want to frame an innocent person? Just scatter their DNA all over a crime scene. I'm afraid the police will rely too much on standard police work and merely focus on DNA matter.
[QUOTE=County Mike] Hell, I wouldn't care if they start swabbing and databasing every new born baby or hospital patient while they're at it. Get EVERYBODY in the database.
no way in hell.
after they swab , then they will be wanting to put id chips , you know for tracking reasons . Then one day you will have to scan your hand where they put the chip to get your grocceries. Im sure you can see where i am going with this . so no , this is not a good idea in any way shape or form.
Glad some people read it...
Just cause your arrested doesn't mean you did it. I should know..
I was arrested for "domestic violence" about 10 years ago.. didn't do a damn thing..
Had my DNA been submitted.. can you imagine how hard it would have been (if even possible) to have my DNA removed from a database.. when a jury of 9 women and 3 men found me not guilty...
I don't see how it's any different from being fingerprinted when you're arrested. Having your DNA taken doesn't convict you so it's not a violation of the "innocent until proven guilty" clause, it's simply another method to identify you if you pull something again.
I don't have a problem with it personally.
I feel that if your not found guilty.. you should have any fingerprints or other stuff destroyed...
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