• Presumed innocent but required to give a DNA sample

    Date: 09.22.09 | by Natalie Jacobs.

    That’s right  –  in at least a dozen states persons arrested but not convicted are being swabbed and their DNA sample entered into the FBI’s national database.  This includes a few states that do the same with juveniles upon arrest.


    alacoolb (Flickr)

    The FBI collects DNA samples from those awaiting trial and from detained immigrants. They assert that increasing the nation’s database will help solve violent crimes as well as exonerate those wrongfully convicted. The Innocence Project has led to the release of over 200 people based on DNA evidence. Seventeen of those released were on death row.

    There is a significant difference between an arrest and a conviction. Law enforcement argues that persons convicted of a crime (or adjudicated delinquent as juveniles are categorized) lose some of their privacy rights. Consequently, 35 states require juveniles to provide DNA samples once they’re found guilty of a crime. Two states, Kansas and Minnesota, require minors to do the same when they’re arrested. Proponents say it’s no different than fingerprinting someone who’s arrested.

    Do you see any difference between being fingerprinted and having your mouth swabbed for a DNA sample? Do you think it’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment which protects you against unreasonable searches and seizures? Consider this issue from the side of a victim or victim’s family. If the database helps solve a murder or sexual assault, is the invasion of privacy minimal and therefore more acceptable?

    Natalie Jacobs

    This post was written by Natalie Jacobs. Prior to joining the AsktheJudge.info team, Natalie worked as a criminal attorney for over five years. She also has worked with Innocence Projects as well as Girls on the Run of Northern Arizona, a character development program for girls in 3rd through 8th grade. When she's not reading and writing about youth justice issues, she thinks about becoming a farmer, chef, world traveler, Bikram master, dogwalker and 80’s film reviewer.

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    • anynomous
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 06:42

      corruptive cops dont care about admendments they still will do what they gotta do without you being able to do something or youll get in trouble..thanx obama for this.