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ISPLA News: Police Can Take DNA Samples From Arrestees, U.S. Supreme Court Rules

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    Police Can Take DNA Samples From Arrestees, U.S. Supreme Court Rules The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Maryland law allowing police to take DNA samples
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2013
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      Police Can Take DNA Samples From Arrestees, U.S. Supreme Court Rules

      The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Maryland law allowing police to take
      DNA samples from arrestees is a "legitimate police procedure," affirming
      similar laws in 28 other states.



      The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday that DNA swabs taken from people arrested
      but not convicted of a serious crime are a "legitimate police procedure,"
      just like fingerprints and photographs, and lawful under the Fourth
      Amendment.

      The decision affirmed laws in 29 states, including Maryland, which brought
      the case before the high court. The state's law had been struck down by the
      Maryland Court of Appeals in 2011.



      "By comparison to the substantial government interest (of solving crimes)
      and the unique effectiveness of DNA identification, the intrusion of a cheek
      swab to obtain a DNA sample is a minimal one,"
      <http://www.ispla.org/EmailTracker/LinkTracker.ashx?linkAndRecipientCode=L8I
      ZRRSwMPgTnsqaxCbJJWvsli6h3UNOGQZCuU9fiGtJphzmRgNnJs4pZwNXOJ4TShSQ2Jkp7CA58Fm
      M7BEwBeLJb5ae40JgqvOlnKGZujA%3d> wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the
      majority. "I think the decision will make it easier for other states to
      enact these laws," said Nevada state Sen. Debbie Smith, a Democrat who
      sponsored the state's new arrestee DNA law signed last week. "When we first
      started the debate here, a lot of people went to that (Fourth Amendment
      privacy) question," she said. "But this decision makes it much easier for
      legislators to decide to seize the arrestee DNA issue and see it through."



      The minority opinion argued that the current DNA collection system is
      overwhelmed and not equipped to handle the backlogs it already has. As
      Stateline has previously
      <http://www.ispla.org/EmailTracker/LinkTracker.ashx?linkAndRecipientCode=Zz8
      2mbdiIGbbdXuZ9u9eYzgVqCoPmolCgO2CsjKH980wu%2bOGUn9kLgxUSQaWAj2BBg0P9H%2bsT%2
      fIjg889lR8pCBy9Opil4kxWmahQ6BFh57I%3d> reported, increased demand for DNA
      samples taken from both arrestees and convicted offenders have exacerbated
      DNA backlogs in the states, often leaving other crime scene evidence
      untouched.



      But Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley applauded the decision. "Today's Supreme
      Court ruling is important because it confirms an important weapon in our
      arsenal to fight violent crime in our state," he said. "Together, we will
      continue employing innovative and meaningful strategies to reduce crime,
      including using DNA, so that we can take violent offenders off the streets
      and protect our families and children."



      The court ruled that police may take cheek swabs to affirm suspects'
      identities and check their criminal histories, Kennedy wrote. Justices
      Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Chief Justice John Roberts
      also joined the majority opinion.



      DNA samples are catalogued in state databases and sent to a national DNA
      database managed by the FBI. Every time a new sample is input, the database
      searches for a "match."

      The nation's first so-called arrestee DNA law
      <http://www.ispla.org/EmailTracker/LinkTracker.ashx?linkAndRecipientCode=nLs
      Vlo2Z7tDGMaHNn%2frp5N065UYD%2fDF29YcqnM%2bR4AHqrCujOcJnKSO30HDhEJ3cr8QmwmY3Q
      UbvAedPNNP2WHR4Z3z3SXXgL1cQ6z%2fy7nQ%3d> originated in New Mexico, where
      22-year-old Katie Sepich was raped and murdered in 2002. Three years later,
      Katie's killer was identified when a DNA sample taken from Gabriel Avila
      matched DNA found at the murder scene. Katie's parents advocated for a New
      Mexico law allowing arrestee DNA swabs and took their campaign nationwide.
      In January, President Barack Obama signed the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA
      Collection Act, which provides grants to states to expand their DNA
      databanks.

      "This is a resounding victory for both law enforcement and civil
      libertarians," said Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who strongly
      advocated for the arrestee DNA law, which took effect in 2009.



      Justice Antonin Scalia, in a
      <http://www.ispla.org/EmailTracker/LinkTracker.ashx?linkAndRecipientCode=L8I
      ZRRSwMPgTnsqaxCbJJWvsli6h3UNOGQZCuU9fiGtJphzmRgNnJs4pZwNXOJ4TShSQ2Jkp7CA58Fm
      M7BEwBeLJb5ae40JgqvOlnKGZujA%3d> dissent also signed by Justices Elena
      Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, argued that the current DNA
      system is too backlogged and not equipped to handle the DNA swabs police
      take. In the Maryland case, Scalia wrote, it took the state 18 days to
      produce the results of suspect Alonzo King's DNA sample in court, and
      Louisiana and Ohio took an average of about 20 days. "The Court's holding
      will result in the dumping of a large number of arrestee samples undefined
      many from minor offenders undefined onto an already overburdened system:
      Nearly one-third of Americans will be arrested for some offense by age 23,"
      Scalia wrote.



      Kennedy did not seem worried about the technology. "Just as fingerprinting
      was constitutional for generations prior to the introduction of IAFIS (the
      FBI's integrated automated fingerprint identification system), DNA
      identification of arrestees is a permissible tool of law enforcement today,"
      he wrote. "New technology will only further improve its speed and therefore
      its effectiveness."



      ISPLA is grateful to Stateline for the permission granted to reproduce this
      June 4, 2013 item by their staff reporter Maggie Clark. Stateline is a
      nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that
      provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.




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      gSXcvwo1yj4ZWDwWyPr5NNf1Xg8zuO0ouc%2bY%3d>
      http://www.pewstates.org/projects/stateline/headlines/police-can-take-dna-sa
      mples-from-arrestees-us-supreme-court-rules-85899480875



      Bruce Hulme

      ISPLA Director of Government Affairs


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      RlG91oQ9GVQ5rIwpMz7wjwBmS50%2bEc%3d> www.ISPLA.org



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