Should Arrestee DNA Databases Extend to Misdemeanors?

Author(s): Elizabeth E. Joh.

Journal Name:Recent Advances in DNA & Gene Sequences (Discontinued)

Volume 8 , Issue 2 , 2014


In the United States, those groups of persons eligible for compulsory DNA sampling by law enforcement authorities continue to expand. The collection of DNA samples from felony arrestees will likely be adopted by many more states after the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Maryland v. King, which upheld a state law permitting the compulsory and warrantless DNA sampling from those arrested of serious offenses. At the time of the decision, 28 states and the federal government already had arrestee DNA collection statutes in place. Nevada became the 29th state to collect DNA from arrestees in May 2013, and several others have bills under consideration. Should states collect DNA from misdemeanor arrestees as well? This article considers this as yet largely unrealized but nevertheless important potential expansion of arrestee DNA databases. The collection of DNA samples from those arrested of relatively minor offenses would increase the number of samples, and perhaps consequently the number of “hits.” On balance, however, such an expansion of current DNA laws raises enough serious concerns-chiefly about police discretion, inequitable enforcement, and cost-that legislators should refrain from changing arrestee DNA laws in this way.

Keywords: Criminal justice, CODIS, DNA database, fourth amendment, genetic privacy, law enforcement, supreme court.

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Article Details

Year: 2014
Page: [59 - 64]
Pages: 6
DOI: 10.2174/2352092209666150205104945