Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Biotech Government Privacy Your Rights Online

DNA Testing Proposed For All Felony Arrests In New Mexico 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the keep-your-mitts-off-my-base-pairs dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The AP reports that a proposal to expand DNA testing to anyone arrested for a felony in New Mexico has passed the state House, expanding a 2006 state law requiring DNA samples of those arrested of certain violent felonies, such as murder, kidnapping and sex offenses. 'We must give law enforcement the best possible tools to prevent crime and convict criminals, and requiring DNA samples from those arrested for felonies is simply the modern-day equivalent of fingerprinting,' says Governor Susana Martinez. Under the measure, already enacted in a dozen states, suspects 18 and older will have to provide DNA samples — from a cheek swab, for example — when they're booked at jails for any felony, as supporters says the expanded testing can help prevent crimes. But opponents contend the testing violates a person's right to privacy and could cause police to make arrests on a pretext to obtain a DNA sample."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DNA Testing Proposed For All Felony Arrests In New Mexico

Comments Filter:
  • Pretext (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:09PM (#35445092)

    We must give law enforcement the best possible tools to prevent crime and convict criminals

    If that were all, you'd be fine limiting this sampling to convicts instead of every arrested suspect.

    • by jensend (71114)

      Right, because DNA evidence has never played a role in convicting anyone and never will in the future. Uh huh.

    • Just to play the devil's advocate:
      What is the difference between a fingerprint sample and a DNA sample? Both are personal, unique and can be used to tie a suspect to other crimes. While I understand that DNA is more alarming, can someone give me a good (rational, not FUD) reason why DNA is worse than fingerprints?
      If you think that the state should delete the sample from the database if the person is found innocent, then the same should be done for fingerprints.

      P.S.
      Before someone talks about big brother usin

      • by Imrik (148191)

        DNA evidence is 'better' than fingerprints, but the problem is that both are given far more weight than they deserve. The mere existence of DNA evidence, even when that evidence isn't necessarily linked to the crime, can be enough for a conviction.

      • Well for starters we shed DNA all of the time, it's much easier to collect someones hair, dandruff, blood and saliva and plant it at a scene than it is to plant someones fingerprints. An astute amateur can collect some DNA from someone he wants to frame without too much difficulty and amplify the sample with a PCR [wikipedia.org] technique using commonly available Taq polymerase [wikipedia.org] and honestly some chemicals found in most kitchens such as vodka, dish detergent and meat tenderizer.

        • The point raised by you is a valid concern regarding the interpretation of DNA evidence in courts. DNA evidence should be better at proving once innocence than it is in proving guilt (at least, as sole evidence). However, I believe it does not directly address my question: Assuming DNA (and fingerprint) evidence is used correctly in courts, what does it matter to me if the cops take my fingerprints, DNA sample, retina scan or whatever? I agree that the assumption may be questionable, but still...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:09PM (#35445094)
    If you have nothing to hide, you should have no problem with this.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      I believe there's been at least one case in the UK of crooks spreading other people's DNA around in order to confuse the cops. I don't remember the details but I'm sure I read about it in the last year or so.

      All you need to do is drop some skin flakes on the London underground and next you know you could be a suspect in a murder case.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        All you need to do is drop some skin flakes on the London underground and next you know you could be a suspect in a murder case.

        Er no, all you need to do is hire a competent defense attorney.

      • by demonbug (309515)

        I believe there's been at least one case in the UK of crooks spreading other people's DNA around in order to confuse the cops. I don't remember the details but I'm sure I read about it in the last year or so.

        All you need to do is drop some skin flakes on the London underground and next you know you could be a suspect in a murder case.

        I just had a picture of the scene in Fargo with the wood chopper.

        You know, just spreading some innocent person's DNA around to throw the cops off...

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:11PM (#35445122)
    But I'd be all in for required DNA for felony convictions. Sounds like with them trying to get this under the guise of "it's like a fingerprint" they are fishing for other crimes that can be attached to the arrestee. I'd be interested to see some data regarding the number of felony arrests vs the number of felony convictions in that state.
    • Being accused opens to the door to all manner of things now. I thought it was only after the proper execution of due process should our "rights" (privileges?) be revoked.

  • Security is more important than your personal privacy or perverse incentives concerns citizen.
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Montezumaa (1674080) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:16PM (#35445188)

    An arrest just an accusation, not a conviction. Until it is proven that a person has committed a crime, the state has no right to obtain such data. Hell, even fingerprints should be withheld until it is proven that a person has committed a crime. That or, at the very least, all fingerprints and other personal identifying information should be removed from government control upon charges being dropped or when a person is found not guilty.

    It seems that government is looking to creep further and further into people's bodies without just cause. The founder of the United States would be extremely angry at what this great nation has become.

    Also, it has nothing to do with whether or not any of us have anything to hide. It is government's responsibility, within the United States, to prove anything wrong has occurred; it is not a citizen's responsibility to prove their innocence. Such a stance of "if you have nothing to hide, then you should have no problem with this" is just a euphemism for "prove you are innocent".

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Montezumaa (1674080) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:19PM (#35445224)

      Just to add:

      I am not sure if people are aware, but many states already push hospitals to obtain DNA samples of newborns for all sorts of varied reasons. No matter, anyone with a brain can figure out what the hell the hospitals and these states are doing: They are building a DNA bank to make the state's job easier.

      This is not the way this country is supposed to be run. It is time to fight to take it back to where it belongs. This will not stop at New Mexico; this will spread further.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        It didn't start at New Mexico, it spread there from California.

      • by anyGould (1295481)

        Just to add:

        I am not sure if people are aware, but many states already push hospitals to obtain DNA samples of newborns for all sorts of varied reasons. No matter, anyone with a brain can figure out what the hell the hospitals and these states are doing: They are building a DNA bank to make the state's job easier.

        And this one is particularly abhorrent - anyone who's been a parent knows that they're not functioning at full mental capacity for the next day or two. When the nurse brings up the consent form and rattles off all the horrible things that this test will prevent, you're not really in a good place to say "hang on, what *else* will they use it for?"

    • by fermion (181285)
      Even if a conviction is made, I don't see how the state has the right to push for such data. Just because one is convicted a felony does not mean that we lose all our rights, only certain ones. For instance, a person who is convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter does not necessarily lose their right to drive forever. Niether should we lose our privacy forever just because we bounced a check. If the rules of evidence demands a DNA sample, and a judge agrees, then sure. Even so, I think we are on the
    • by rgviza (1303161)

      Add to that the dna test result can end up in duplicates in 1/1000 cases... we aren't testing DNA thoroughly enough to _guarantee_ that we've got the right person. Also using a DNA database, it is possible to take information from a profile already in the DB and manufacture DNA to match it. Researchers in Israel have already proven it can be done.

      Me thinks there needs to be a better DNA test before we start killing people or locking them up for life based on DNA evidence. I can use using it to exonerate peo

  • Do they mean to collect upon arrest or conviction? I was under the impression people were innocent until proven guilty in the country, even in back-ass Arizona... If you're CONVICTED that is way different than just arrested. If you're convicted, you lose rights anyway, so I'd be less offended. If this is upon arrest, that is a huge civil liberties violation.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      Actually, it's New Mexico, but the rest of it is spot on. Take the samples if they're relevant to the investigation, but I do think there should be some rules barring the use of that DNA on other investigations without a conviction or at least some specific court order mandating it.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      It says booked. So, this would imply that, if you are arrested for a felony charge, whether or not you are innocent, they will take a DNA sample.

      Now, the right thing to do would be to either take the DNA sample once convicted OR, if it is taken upon arrest and booking, it should be held conditionally. Basically, they can use it as an investigative tool but, should you be exonerated, that sample should be destroyed or discarded. The samples should only be kept following a conviction.

    • While you certainly lose liberties from being incarcerated, you should never lose rights. Even if you are arrested, you still have:

      The right to protection against cruel and unusual punishment (first and foremost in this situation)
      The right to entertain whatever religion you like
      The right to a trial if you are accused of another crime
      Etc

      Some places will remove a person's rights upon conviction, like right to vote, but that is an enormous mistake. First of all, if there are enough felony convictions
      • Sounds like it's about time to create a new religion that actually does something for its followers. How about if the FSM were to preach that its followers were not to be subjected to DNA tests unless convicted. That way any extraction of DNA by the police would be a strike against a major religion.
    • by pavon (30274)

      Seriously. It is blatantly unconstitutional, and a gross violation of our civil rights, but that doesn't stop more than half of out elected officials who swore to defend and protect the constitution from voting on it. Nor did it stop the majority of the people in the state from voting for a Governor who made crap like this a major part of her platform. Although the opposition was only slightly better as she constantly bragged about her role in passing Katie's law, the forerunner to this shit.

      I have no hope

  • by EuclideanSilence (1968630) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:20PM (#35445240)
    From TFA:

    The legislation will expand what's called "Katie's Law" in memory of Kathryn Sepich, a New Mexico State University student who was raped and murdered in 2003. Sepich's killer was identified more than three years later with DNA evidence after he was CONVICTED of another crime.

    So why swab someone who has only been arrested?

    "If we can start by matching these CRIMINALS up to their previous crimes..." --Rep. Al Park

    Wow. So this is what due process has come to. Arrest = criminal. I'd like to take a jab at New Mexico but DNA testing at arrest is a nationwide effort.

    • by russotto (537200) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:41PM (#35445474) Journal

      Wow. So this is what due process has come to. Arrest = criminal.

      "But the thing is, you don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect." -- US Attorney General Edwin Meese, in 1985.

      • by Nukenbar (215420)

        Pretty accurate. He doesn't say every arrest is guilty, only most. That sounds about right.

        • The problem is the last sentence:

          If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.

          It may simply be a poor chose of phrase, but taken at face value this would mean that no innocent person is ever a suspect in a crime, ergo all suspects are guilty. The whole point of having a distinction between suspect and convict is that people who are actually innocent of a crime do sometimes end up as suspects, at least until their names are cleared. (For that matter, some people who are actually innocent find themselves becoming convicts, not just suspects.)

      • There probably aren't many suspects that are innocent (percentage wise). The problem is that still leaves for a LOT of people arrested for crimes they didn't commit. Ben Franklin said it best "that it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer."
      • by sjames (1099)

        Yeah, Meese failed logic.

    • by pclminion (145572)
      It's not just prosecutors who think this way. Apparently most of the general population does as well. "If you didn't do the crime you wouldn't have been arrested." Truly frightening.
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpcNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:26PM (#35445304) Homepage
    Interesting question. Let's assume a theoretical person "I". "I" am "pre-emptively arrested" for a felony in order to get a DNA sample, but that specific arrest itself is later to have been found to be without reasonable cause, AKA it was a fishing expedition. Let's also assume that "I" have other warrants or am a suspect in crimes where there is an existing DNA sample. Mostly these would be sexual crimes, assaults, and murder related, that is, I don't think that police departments are DNA swabbing every known crime scene (burglaries, car thefts, etc.). In this scenario, the tainted match results in the possibility of a conviction for an unrelated issue. The false arrest is a legal taint -- the police aren't allowed to do it -- and so any evidence recovered in this manner would become unusable in BOTH cases.

    As opposed to "I am brought in for questioning", offered a drink of water, a cigarette, or WHATEVER as a ruse for the police to get a DNA sample, a fingerprint, etc. -- tactics that have been held to be legal in many many court cases. Why would I as a police department risk the inevitable lawsuit and serious legal expense, or the loss of a predator/violent criminal/murderous type with an arrest when I can do something much cheaper to get the DNA sample I need?

    I think the bigger "security vs. freedom" issue would be along the lines of "we got a DNA sample on file for you and we can keep it and share it with anyone we want for whatever reason and you will never know who/how/why it was shared". Because we trust governments SO much to only do the right things with our personal information, to never allow their databases to be sold, shared, hacked, etc., right?
    • As opposed to "I am brought in for questioning", offered a drink of water, a cigarette, or WHATEVER as a ruse for the police to get a DNA sample, a fingerprint, etc. -- tactics that have been held to be legal in many many court cases. Why would I as a police department risk the inevitable lawsuit and serious legal expense, or the loss of a predator/violent criminal/murderous type with an arrest when I can do something much cheaper to get the DNA sample I need?

      The big risk with these sorts of 'fill the database' rules isn't in getting a sample of a suspected perp - as you point out, that's easy. It is to allow for fishing expeditions - potentially along a grand scale. Just plug the 'number' into a computer and poof - problem solved. Of course, that's not quite true. There are serious issues with data fidelity and the statistical accuracy of the testing. But that's just some little technical detail, not of much interest to those politicians and DA's who want

  • Needs safeguards. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BitterOak (537666) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:28PM (#35445326)
    What guarantee do we have that the samples will be destroyed and the database records will be deleted if the suspect is found not guilty or the charges are dropped?
  • So, in other words, unreliable and inaccurately interpreted. Someone did a study where they sent fingerprint samples to various fingerprint experts. On a second round, 9 out of 10 failed to identify the fingerprints as belonging to the same person as on the first time (the fingerprint experts were unaware that they had previously identified these specific prints).
    • by Nukenbar (215420)

      If fingerprints so inaccurate, doesn't that speak to the further need of DNA to identify criminals?

      • DNA is not more accurate. They don't actually take the entire DNA. They just compare a certain number of sub-sections. Typically DNA matches are on the order of "1 in 100,000". Think about that. That means there would be on the order of 30,000 matches in the U.S. That means in Honolulu there would likely be 3-4 matches.
      • You're assuming the current level of DNA comparison is completely accurate.

  • Hmm so basically we are saying fuck due process and everyone is eventually guilty of something? I was arrested once for a warrant that ended up being someone else with the same name, it was straightened out in a couple of hours (actually in about 5 minutes but I spend 2 hours in a holding cell waiting for them to get around to me) from what I was told it happens all the time. I wouldn't have a problem with dna samples for felony convictions but this is ridiculous. Its amazing how much of our own personal

  • The thing with DNA is that you have a tendency to scatter it around. That's the whole point of testing: not the DNA that has to be taken from you, but the DNA that somebody left voluntarily at the crime scene.

    Your face is already not particularly private. If the cops are looking for you, and they see your face, they're going to say, "Hey, it's that guy", and nobody is going to bring up privacy concerns. A very few people make a point of hiding their faces all the time, but it's inconvenient and unpleasan

    • Its funny that companies get the DMCA to protect their 'DNA' with all kind of protections on digital locks. But for humans its 'fuck you, you scatter it everywhere, no protections for it." So Sony can toss a ton of bullshit onto the market, do whatever they want with hardware they dont own and then when someone breaks it they cry foul. Couldnt the same argument be made that Sony scattered its keys everywhere for people to find? Not trying to turn this into a rant against Sony, i just find it ironic that we
  • Eventually, our DNA became our ID. It was a long time coming, as the process gradually became much more reliable and cost effective. Finally, when enough people had their lives destroyed by identity theft (we're talkin' about a billion), then it was no longer a choice. In fact, the tipping point came at an election, where electronic votes were stolen en masse, and an outcome was invalidated by the court. The irony was that DNA ID would not have prevented the fraud, but so many were clamoring for it that
    • Eventually, our DNA became our ID.

      DNA is not a unique ID.
      - Identical twins (and other clones) share it - to about the extent that one part of your body shares it with another.
      - Releatives, especially among small population groups, share most of it. Enough to make "matches" require an inordinate number of markers to be reliable.
      - Some people are chimeras - with different parts of their bodies from different egg-sperm combinations.
      - And then there are transplant recipients...

      F

  • Why? If you are arrested, they already have your fingerprints. If you are exonerated, they still keep your fingerprints on file. They're never deleted, they're shared with everyone. To the judicial system, it is exactly the same thing - a genetic fingerprint. I understand the concern of a slippery slope, however the precedent has already been set. My major concern is less them keeping it, and more who they share it with. For instance, suppose the insurance lobby convinces congress that that information can
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:52PM (#35445588)

      Why? If you are arrested, they already have your fingerprints. If you are exonerated, they still keep your fingerprints on file.

      And they should be deleted too.

      You appear to be saying 'because the police do this bad thing, we should let them do other bad things too'. Taking DNA on arrest is now standard practice in the UK and even though the EU has told them they must delete it if the suspect turns out to be innocent, they've taken two years and a change of government to start to delete some. It's just another attempt to create a big police state database.

      • by scubamage (727538)
        While I appreciate your perspective, I think this battle was lost when we gave the government the right to keep our fingerprints. A fingerprint, just like a DNA sequence, or an MD5 hash is just a way to identify someone. They're not going to see any difference because in reality there isn't one: its a unique identifier, something they have the right to collect. If you were to pursue getting the right for them to have fingerprints stored I would wholeheartedly support you.
  • If the DNA and the resulting info is destroyed after suspect is released of found innocent; not a huge problem.
    If the DNA and the resulting info are kept in perpetuity, big problem.

    • by Byzantine (85549)

      And what government instituted among men is going to destroy something so potentially useful—to them, of course, not to the citizenry.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:58PM (#35445664) Homepage

    If the Government takes a DNA sample, they should be required to run it through 23andMe [23andme.com] and give you the results for free. That would provide some benefit. The "criminal" DNA matching systems are far cruder than the 100,000 point analysis 23andMe does.

  • So they'll gather DNA from all arrestees, but will they give people the right to have further DNA tests done when the evidence might exonerate them? I keep hearing stories of innocent people in jail for years because the police labs screw up (or don't do tests at all) and they weren't given the right to do DNA tests at an external lab even if they paid for it themselves. It seems to me that laws are generally slanted towards increasing the number of people in prison regardless of whether or not they are gui
  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @03:20PM (#35445950) Homepage Journal

    So, upon ARREST (not conviction), the state can do anything like like to you? I guess that's fair, considering the government can now sexually assault you for the crime of buying an airline ticket.

    We are living in a country where citizens rights have evaporated, so you can be "safe". My question is: Safe from what? I now fear the authorities more than any terrorist or criminal - because it's more likely that THEY will assault me at some point, violate what little rights I have left, and maybe even accidentally torture, maim, or kill me.

    These days you can be tazed for speaking out at a public hearing, or beaten to death for crossing the street. I suspect it's only a matter of time before arrest == PMITA prison time before any kind of trial, just to get you "warmed up" for your new life as a criminal.

  • The problem is that this type of proposal is simply data-dredging which can lead to the prosecutor's fallacy [wikipedia.org]. If the DNA test is applied to enough people, even with low error rates you're guaranteed to ensnare innocents through false positives. With a large enough number of tests, the probability of a false positive arising becomes so high that the tests become statistically meaningless and legally irrelevant. Which is why these types of tests are usually restricted to suspects which already have other evid
  • Innocent until proven guilty. Why is that so hard for people to remember?
  • I would be all in favor of this IF it also included any and ALL elected officials and anyone serving the public such as Judges, DA's and police officers.
    These people above all should have absolutely nothing to hide and should be forced to deal with the false positives just as much if not more than the average person.

  • If convicted, I can see that. If there is consent, fine, I can see that.

    DNA matchups are not nearly as accurate as many prosecutors would have you believe, and are also prone to errors. As others have stated, there must be adequate safeguards:

    A second DNA sequence should be made by a different lab for confirmation. If they don't match each other, then a third. (DNA sequencing is MUCH cheaper than it used to be. That is not an undue burden.)

    A suspect should have the right to get a test of their own
  • Am I the only person who is immediately suspicious when they said "convict criminals"?

    Someone isn't a criminal until they are tried and found guilty. Using the language of "convict criminals" it is assumed that the people accused are guilty anyway, so why even both with their civil rights.....

  • by JobyOne (1578377) on Friday March 11, 2011 @07:20PM (#35458320) Homepage Journal

    I'm from New Mexico, and I'm wondering where our fearless new leader left her fiery campaign promises about the budget.

    So far her big accomplishments have been:

    To dissolve environmental regulations to the best of her abilities (to pay back her big energy campaign donors, even if her methods were possibly illegal)

    Try to institute a very expensive overhaul of our drivers' licenses (because despite being named Martinez she seems to hate brown people enough that it clouds her judgement. Illegal immigrants get licenses for a very simple reason here: so they can get insurance -- so that the rest of us don't pay absurd[er] premiums.)

    After campaigning on a promise to balance the budget without cutting education say "oh, never mind, we might have to cut education" within a week of being elected.

    Now she's instituting this? I can't imagine it'll be cheap either.

    I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Republicans talk a big talk on fiscal responsibility, but can't walk the walk unless it's going to help them shit on the heads of poor people. All promises of fiscal responsibility also go right out the window when it comes to chances to edge closer to a police state or go to war.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

Working...