Thursday, August 11, 2011

Courts Clash on Taking DNA Upon Arrest

From the
Laws allowing DNA samples to be taken from people who are arrested—even those who haven't been charged—are sparking a passionate debate in the courts, pitting privacy concerns against crime fighting, and setting the stage for what could be a high-profile battle in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cheek swabs or blood samples from those arrested for felonies offer law enforcement officials unique identifying tags, much like fingerprints or bar codes on products. These tags are recorded in state and national databases and can be used later to match samples from the scenes of crimes that haven't been solved.

The practice of taking fingerprints of suspects upon arrest and storing them has been used for decades and has yet to face a serious constitutional challenge, according to David Kaye, a law professor at Penn State University and an expert on DNA evidence. And nearly every state in the union allows for DNA samples to be taken from at least some convicted felons.

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