DNA as a crime-fighting tool has not yet lived up to its full expectations. Police officials believe that could start to change as California begins to implement the newly passed Proposition 69, reports the Los Angeles Times. The most populous state, now with the nation’s most aggressive DNA law, may help propel DNA use nationwide. The prospect cheers police officials and troubles civil libertarians. “California will very quickly become the ‘hit’ leader in the nation,” said Paul Ferrara, the head of Virginia’s Division of Forensic Science. “And they’ll get a lot of ‘hits’ for crimes in other states and criminals in other states.”
Proposition 69, approved by voters 62 percent to 38 percent, mandates that a DNA “fingerprint” be taken from all adults and juveniles convicted of a felony, as well as all adults arrested for murder or certain sex offenses – whether or not they are convicted. In 2009, the law expands to include any person arrested for a felony or for some misdemeanors, also regardless of a conviction. The FBI’s national databank, the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, contains about 1.5 million names. If California is able to keep up with its new law, the state could add 1 million names in a few years. Testing will be done with Q-tip-like devices that take a sample from the lining of the inner cheek. Lance Gima of California’s Bureau of Forensic Services estimated the cost per test at $50 to $60.