Law enforcement officials are vastly expanding their collection of DNA to include millions more people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted. The move, intended to help solve more crimes, is raising concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent.
Know of any local prosecutors who presume you’re innocent until proven guilty?
Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts. But starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will collect DNA from detained immigrants — the vanguard of a growing class of genetic registrants…
Law enforcement officials say that expanding the DNA databanks to include legally innocent people will help solve more violent crimes. They point out that DNA has helped convict thousands of criminals and has exonerated more than 200 wrongfully convicted people.
But criminal justice experts cite Fourth Amendment privacy concerns and worry that the nation is becoming a genetic surveillance society…
Sixteen states now take DNA from some who have been found guilty of misdemeanors. As more police agencies take DNA for a greater variety of lesser and suspected crimes, civil rights advocates say the government’s power is becoming too broadly applied. “What we object to — and what the Constitution prohibits — is the indiscriminate taking of DNA for things like writing an insufficient funds check, shoplifting, drug convictions,” said Michael Risher, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Just in case you haven’t heard this predictable slogan in a while – Rock Harmon, a former prosecutor for Alameda County, Calif., and an adviser to crime laboratories, says…“If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.”
Those who would toss out the Constitution haven’t come up with a new excuse since the days of Joe McCarthy – or their more recent matinee idol, George W. Bush. We’re supposed to believe they’re doing everyone a favor in the name of protecting us from crime or terrorists or Martians – by limiting our liberty.