DNA arrest database

1 minute read

In yesterday’s DNA news, the U.S. House of Representatives wants to pay for an expansion of federal DNA databases to include all arrestees:

By a 357 to 32 vote, the House approved legislation that will pay state governments to require DNA samples, which could mean drawing blood with a needle, from adults "arrested for" certain serious crimes.

The linked article has a slant towards civil liberties; it was the one I found that discussed the unusual procedure of the vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership scheduled Tuesday's debate on the bill--called the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2010--using a procedure known as the "suspension calendar" intended to be reserved for non-controversial legislation.
"Suspension of the rules is supposed to be for praising the winner of the NCAA championship or renaming Post Offices," Harper says. "Things like collecting Americans' DNA are supposed to be fully debated in Congress."

I take that as a sign of how little debate there is among the political class about this issue.

I don’t have strong feelings about DNA sampling at arrest. The potential for abuse comes from how easy it is to arrest someone. If the feds are paying the bills, that takes away an important impetus for local oversight. Still, there’s little doubt that some unsolved cases will be resolved by an expanded database. Probably more would be impacted if more funding were provided for backlogs in profiling of crime scene samples.

Oh well, how bad can it be? After all, university freshmen now are being asked for samples with enrollment!

Maybe if Congresspeople would provide samples to get the ball rolling, I’d feel better. We can reassure them that their profiles will be protected by giving them unique bar codes.

More: “Privacy, politicians and genetic testing.”