As many states move to expand their DNA databanks, the Houston Chronicle notes that law enforcers and crime victims in Texas say dangerous criminals may escape justice there because the state fails to require DNA sampling of most arrestees. The federal government and at least 20 other states have adopted laws expanding their DNA databanks by taking samples from people arrested. Proponents argue DNA samples should be routine, like taking fingerprints at every jail booking.
Opponents argue mandatory DNA sampling violates fundamental rights and that expansion of databanks is costly time-consuming. Texas allows DNA samples taken from arrestees only if they are charged with a sexual offense or burglary – and then only after a grand jury indicts them. If those arrestees haven’t been indicted, DNA is taken only if they have a past conviction for a similar offense.