The “law” segment of Law & Fiction is still on vacation, but because I’ve posted about recent changes in the law allowing DNA samples to be taken from persons arrested for specified violent crimes, rather than after conviction, I wanted to share this report from the Urban Institute of the Justice Policy Center titled Collecting DNA at Arrest: Policies, Practices, and Implications. Here’s the Executive Summary. Forensic Magazine says
“This report examines arrestee DNA laws, their implementation in the field, and their subsequent effects on agency operations and public safety. Twenty-eight states and the federal government have enacted laws authorizing DNA collection from individuals arrested for or charged with certain offenses, and the practice has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Arrestee laws vary across states, particularly with respect to qualifying offenses, point of collection and analysis, and expungement procedures, and impose significant administrative and analytic burdens on state laboratories and collecting agencies.
The report finds that arrestee DNA laws have contributed additional profiles to CODIS and led to additional hits, but is unable to estimate the total number of hits for which arrestee laws were solely responsible.”
I wrote earlier this year about a new federal statute called Katie’s Law and similar statutes in 28 states that allow DNA samples to be taken from anyone charged with specified serious felonies when arrested — rather than deferring sampling until conviction. I also mentioned an on-going challenge to Maryland’s law. The challenger was arrested for assault and a DNA sample was taken. The sample connected him to an unsolved rape, for which he was then charged.
The Supreme Court has now reversed the Maryland Supreme Court and upheld the state law, holding 5-4 that sampling at the time of arrest is not unconstitutional. Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority that “police have a legitimate interest in identifying the person taken into custody and that the DNA samples could make sure that a dangerous criminal is not released on bail,” and the intrusiveness of a DNA swab is minimal in comparison. More details from the Washington Post report.