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Local DNA labs avoid state and U.S. laws to nab criminals

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  • gildacabral
    Matches on DNA on state managed databases help find criminals but their legality is being questioned. -G By Richard Willing, USA TODAY WASHINGTON — A growing
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 1, 2007
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      Matches on DNA on state managed databases help find criminals but
      their legality is being questioned.

      -G

      By Richard Willing, USA TODAY
      WASHINGTON — A growing number of police crime labs are adding DNA
      from suspects to databases that operate outside of state and federal
      law by matching those suspects to unrelated crimes.
      Proponents say the databases, which have solved more than 50 crimes,
      are legitimate because no laws forbid them.


      PERFECT MATCH?: Authorities turn to DNA databases

      Defense lawyers and privacy advocates counter that the federal
      government and all 50 states require individuals to be convicted or
      in some cases indicted for a serious crime before their DNA can be
      added to the FBI's national criminal database. Searching a suspect's
      DNA, they argue, violates privacy rights.

      "It's a cloudy area," says David Kaye, a law professor at Arizona
      State University.

      Few court rulings exist to say whether these databases are legal or
      whether data contained in them can be used in criminal cases.

      State legislators in Illinois and New York this year are among the
      first to consider bills that would regulate or forbid the databases.

      Since 1990, states and the federal government have matched DNA from
      unsolved crimes to convicts or in seven states to some arrestees
      through an FBI computer system.

      That system, called CODIS, has matched DNA from convicted offenders
      and arrestees to over 35,000 unsolved crimes since 1990, FBI
      spokeswoman Ann Todd says.

      However, there's a growing number of DNA samples the FBI can't
      store. They include DNA taken from criminal suspects who are later
      cleared and from persons who volunteer to give DNA to convince
      police they are innocent.

      Laboratories in at least five states — California, Florida,
      Illinois, Missouri and New York — use local databases to store DNA
      data ineligible for the FBI database.

      New York state has at least eight local crime labs that keep over
      2,000 DNA profiles of suspects, according to documents obtained
      under a Freedom of Information request by the New York-based
      Innocence Project, which specializes in overturning convictions
      through DNA evidence, and shared with USA TODAY.

      "They're rogue databases that operate without the public's knowledge
      and without the security and privacy considerations of the
      government databases," says Stephen Saloom, the Innocence Project's
      policy director. "This is an issue the public ought to decide."

      John Feinblatt, criminal justice coordinator for New York City Mayor
      Michael Bloomberg, says using suspect DNA is no different than using
      fingerprints from one case to help solve another — a practice that
      courts condone.

      "Nothing happens to a person who has DNA on file unless they commit
      a crime," Feinblatt says.

      "The law has to catch up with science."
    • goldconsul@aol.com
      That is interesting Gilda, thanks. I have thought about putting our own data base together for specific reasons. However, I am concerned about privacy
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 2, 2007
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        That is interesting Gilda, thanks.   I have thought about putting our own data base together for specific reasons.  However, I am concerned about privacy issues.   I have to be very careful how I handle and store DNA data now.  I treat it as privileged information, kept under lock and key.
         
        Walter
         
        In a message dated 4/1/2007 2:55:46 PM Pacific Daylight Time, gcabral@... writes:

        Matches on DNA on state managed databases help find criminals but
        their legality is being questioned.

        -G

        By Richard Willing, USA TODAY
        WASHINGTON — A growing number of police crime labs are adding DNA
        from suspects to databases that operate outside of state and federal
        law by matching those suspects to unrelated crimes.
        Proponents say the databases, which have solved more than 50 crimes,
        are legitimate because no laws forbid them.

        PERFECT MATCH?: Authorities turn to DNA databases

        Defense lawyers and privacy advocates counter that the federal
        government and all 50 states require individuals to be convicted or
        in some cases indicted for a serious crime before their DNA can be
        added to the FBI's national criminal database. Searching a suspect's
        DNA, they argue, violates privacy rights.

        "It's a cloudy area," says David Kaye, a law professor at Arizona
        State University.

        Few court rulings exist to say whether these databases are legal or
        whether data contained in them can be used in criminal cases.

        State legislators in Illinois and New York this year are among the
        first to consider bills that would regulate or forbid the databases.

        Since 1990, states and the federal government have matched DNA from
        unsolved crimes to convicts or in seven states to some arrestees
        through an FBI computer system.

        That system, called CODIS, has matched DNA from convicted offenders
        and arrestees to over 35,000 unsolved crimes since 1990, FBI
        spokeswoman Ann Todd says.

        However, there's a growing number of DNA samples the FBI can't
        store. They include DNA taken from criminal suspects who are later
        cleared and from persons who volunteer to give DNA to convince
        police they are innocent.

        Laboratories in at least five states — California, Florida,
        Illinois, Missouri and New York — use local databases to store DNA
        data ineligible for the FBI database.

        New York state has at least eight local crime labs that keep over
        2,000 DNA profiles of suspects, according to documents obtained
        under a Freedom of Information request by the New York-based
        Innocence Project, which specializes in overturning convictions
        through DNA evidence, and shared with USA TODAY.

        "They're rogue databases that operate without the public's knowledge
        and without the security and privacy considerations of the
        government databases," says Stephen Saloom, the Innocence Project's
        policy director. "This is an issue the public ought to decide."

        John Feinblatt, criminal justice coordinator for New York City Mayor
        Michael Bloomberg, says using suspect DNA is no different than using
        fingerprints from one case to help solve another — a practice that
        courts condone.

        "Nothing happens to a person who has DNA on file unless they commit
        a crime," Feinblatt says.

        "The law has to catch up with science."

         




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