Federal Agencies with arrest powers have decided to take DNA samples from every individual arrested. According the on-line article, the rule is being published in the Federal Register for a thirty day comment period.
What would this new rule mean? Any person arrested by a federal agent will have a DNA swab taken and placed in CODIS (the National DNA registry). Supporters cite to the expansion of law enforcement in crime solving. What about civil rights? What about privacy rights?
To substantiate an arrest, an officer must only provide a Magistrate with probable cause to believe the person committed the crime. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not proof that the suspect committed the crime, just probable cause to believe the suspect committed the crime. Only after an acquittal or dismissal of the charges would the person be able to request destruction of the DNA sample taken. This request, like all other matters Federal, would be required to filter through the Federal Bureaucracy.
Does the Federal Government have a right to the DNA of every individual residing in this country? No. Does the Federal Government have a right to the DNA of every person arrested? No. A Senior Judge who passed away several years ago once told me that when he first started practicing law he advised clients to refuse fingerprinting. At the time that seemed so foreign to me. Fingerprinting is a way to track individuals and is commonly used. But there was a time when it wasn’t.
Does the minimal invasion of the mouth with a cotton swab create trauma for the suspect? No. Should that person be required to give up a genetic fingerprint because an officer made an arrest? Absolutely not. Once we as citizens give up our privacy rights in favor of some perceived security concern, we will no longer be free.
DNA samples in a database will not prevent crime. DNA samples in a database may aid in the capture of criminals, but it will NOT prevent crime. Do not fall into the security trap. Stand up for your privacy rights.