Under a new Indiana law, felons in Marion County were forced to begin providing DNA samples this week. Felons in counties surrounding Indianapolis must begin the process in August, with the rest of the counties phased in after that. Previously, only those who committed the most violent crimes were routinely tested. But under a 2005 state law, all felons in the state must submit to the procedure.
Advocates of the requirement say it will take repeat offenders off the street more quickly, reduce the incidence of violent crime and solve “cold” cases. By matching the DNA from old crime scenes with that from the felons tested, “we’re going to get hits, we’re going to get investigative leads, we’re going to get suspects,” said Mark Renner of Strand Analytical Laboratories, which will extract the samples. But with as many as 16,000 additional Indiana felons expected during the next year to provide DNA samples — a swab is rubbed inside the offender’s mouth — some question whether the benefit of comprehensive testing outweighs individuals’ rights.