The Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that police can collect DNA samples from suspects when they are arrested. The ruling has started a debate over collecting and storing suspect’s DNA and if it violates a person’s constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that the police can take a suspect’s DNA sample without a warrant, saying that the law already allows police to take a suspect’s fingerprints and photograph, and that they do not need to wait until the suspect is convicted of a crime before they can collect their DNA.
The four justices that were against the ruling said that it violates a person’s Fourth Amendment rights that protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. The American Civil Liberties Union said that the ruling will significantly impact the privacy rights of U.S. citizens. The ACLU said that law enforcement should not be allowed to collect and store a suspect’s DNA just because they are arrested for a crime. Instead, the police should either need a warrant or wait until the suspect is convicted of the offense.
Supporters of collecting DNA after someone is arrested for a crime said that it will help solve more criminal cases. Law enforcement agencies say that it will help solve many unsolved cases as well as prevent future crimes from happening.
Michigan State Police said that they only collect DNA samples from individuals arrested for felonies and violent crimes. While they current store DNA in a database, there is a pending bill in Michigan that would allow the police to return or destroy the DNA samples if the suspect is acquitted.
Source: Wood TV, “Supreme Court: DNA swab at arrest OK,” Marc Thompson, June 3, 2013