The collection of DNA in Law Enforcement
The collection of DNA samples is vastly expanding in law enforcement. This expansion includes millions of people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted. Although this expansion was intended to assist law enforcement to solve crimes, concerns have been raised about the privacy of offenders and people who are presumed innocent.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will also collect DNA from detained immigrants. The FBI has a database of 6.7 million profiles expects to increase it from 80,000 a year to 1.2 million by 2012.Through this, FBI officials report they expect an increase in processing DNA backlogs. At present, the backlog has over 500,000 cases.
Law enforcement officials believe that more violent crimes will be solved by expanding the DNA data banks to include legally innocent people. Statistics show that available DNA profiles have helped in the conviction of thousands of criminals and has exonerated more than 200 wrongfully convicted people.Juveniles are required to provide DNA samples in 35 states upon conviction of a crime and in some states upon arrest.
The collection of DNA samples is taken in sixteen states for misdemeanors. It is expected that more law enforcement agencies take DNA samples for a more variety of lesser and suspected crimes. The main objection comes from lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union who want to ensure that DNA samples are not taken indiscriminately for things like writing an insufficient funds check, shoplifting or drug convictions. The F.B.I.’s DNA database is the largest in the world.
Police officers say that the potential dangers of genetic surveillance are worth it because it helps solve crimes and because DNA is more accurate than any other physical evidence. The Denver district attorney and advocate for more expansive DNA sampling simply puts it this way “DNA sampling saves women’s lives.”
Finally, law enforcement officials argue that DNA is blind to race. The national DNA profiles include little more information than the DNA sequence and the referring police agency. The person’s actual names are usually kept by crime investigators. The expected rate of the increase of growth in the FBI’s DNA database is of 1.2 million new entries by 2012.
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