Critics: Taking DNA from More Arrestees Could Increase Testing Backlogs


After the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing seizure of arrestees’ DNA, the Washington Post notes that the technology is far from fulfilling its promise of aiding law enforcement to identify criminals and letting the innocent go free. A Department of Justice study estimated that around 900,000 requests for biological screening, mostly DNA testing, were backlogged nationally at the end of 2009. The large numbers of kits from routine arrests may be making the problem worse, argues University of Virginia law Prof. Brandon Garrett. “As taking more DNA from arrestees has increased, the backlogs have increased at the expense of testing DNA from actual crime scenes,” he said. Garrett said that simply adding a DNA sample from everyone who is arrested might even make it harder for police to identify criminals, increasing the likelihood of false positives without adding any perpetrators to the system. Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project, agreed, and disagrees with the court ruling, saying that its reasoning could open the way for large numbers of minor offenders' DNA profiles to be pointlessly added to databases.

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