FEDS TO COLLECT
DNA FROM EVERY PERSON THEY ARREST
The government plans to begin collecting DNA samples from anyone arrested by a federal
law enforcement agency — a move intended to prevent violent crime but which also is raising concerns about the privacy
of innocent people.
Using authority granted by Congress, the government also plans to collect DNA samples from foreigners
who are detained, whether they have been charged or not. The DNA would be collected through a cheek swab, Justice Department
spokesman Erik Ablin said Wednesday. That would be a departure from current practice, which limits DNA collection to convicted
Expanding the DNA database, known as CODIS, raises civil liberties questions about the potential for misuse
of such personal information, such as family ties and genetic conditions.
Ablin said the DNA collection would be subject
to the same privacy laws applied to current DNA sampling. That means none of it would be used for identifying genetic traits,
diseases or disorders.
Congress gave the Justice Department the authority to expand DNA collection in two different
laws passed in 2005 and 2006.
There are dozens of federal law enforcement agencies, ranging from the FBI to the Library
of Congress Police. The federal government estimates it makes about 140,000 arrests each year.
Those who support the
expanded collection believe that DNA sampling could get violent criminals off the streets and prevent them from committing
A Chicago study in 2005 found that 53 murders and rapes could have been prevented if a DNA
sample had been collected upon arrest.
"Many innocent lives could have been saved had the government began this kind
of DNA sampling in the 1990s when the technology to do so first became available," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said. Kyl sponsored
the 2005 law that gave the Justice Department this authority.
Thirteen states have similar laws: Alaska,
Arizona, California, Kansas,
Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota,
New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
new regulation would mean that the federal government could store DNA samples of people who are not guilty of any crime, said
Jesselyn McCurdy, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"Now innocent people's DNA will be put
into this huge CODIS database, and it will be very difficult for them to get it out if they are not charged or convicted of
a crime," McCurdy said.
If a person is arrested but not convicted, he or she can ask the Justice Department to destroy
The Homeland Security Department — the federal agency charged with policing immigration — supports
the new rule.
"DNA is a proven law-enforcement tool," DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said.
The rule would not allow
for DNA samples to be collected from immigrants who are legally in the United
States or those being processed for admission, unless the person was arrested.
proposed rule is being published in the Federal Register. That will be followed by a 30-day comment period.
Copyright © 2005-2009 by Rev. Dr.
Ricardo E. Nuñez. All Rights Reserved.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized
by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of
any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section
107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain
permission from the copyright owner.