States are dramatically expanding DNA sampling beyond convicted felons to include suspects arrested for felonies before they are tried, says USA Today. Twelve states permit sampling for some or all felony arrests, up from five in 2006, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 21 are considering such proposals, says DNAResource.com, which tracks DNA-related laws. Most of the laws call for destroying samples if suspects are acquitted or charges are dropped. After a sample is destroyed, the DNA cannot be matched to other crimes in the database.
Civil liberties advocates protest that the testing amounts to a clumsy forensic dragnet. Beginning in July, South Dakota and Kansas will require all felony suspects to provide DNA samples. In January, California and North Dakota will do so. In California alone, that could double the number of state samples in the federal DNA data bank from 1 million to 2 million. The federal government is preparing to issue similar rules for taking samples from thousands of detainees in its custody, including suspected immigration violators.