Examining DNA Collection


The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that it law enforcement agencies may collect DNA samples from people arrested for, but not convicted of, serious crimes.

But the 5-4 decision in Maryland v. King does not yet mean that every person arrested in America for a serious crime will be subjected to DNA sampling. In a study funded by the National Institute of Justice, researchers for the Urban Institute found that arrestee DNA laws vary widely from state to state.

Researchers examined laws in the 28 states that have passed legislation authorizing the collection of DNA. Half of the states collect DNA from people accused of certain felonies, including sexual assault and certain violent and property crimes. Seven states also collect DNA for certain misdemeanors.

One state, Oklahoma, authorizes DNA collection for “any alien unlawfully present under federal immigration law.”

In addition to the wide variance of practices across states, researchers found that implementation can be costly, and the impact on crime solving is uncertain.

In the event that an arrestee is found not guilty, most states place the responsibility for expungement on the arrestee. However, few states specify notification procedures, processing times, or use of profiles, according to the study.

Read the study HERE.

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