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DNA Testing Proposed For All Felony Arrests In New Mexico 155

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."
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DNA Testing Proposed For All Felony Arrests In New Mexico

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  • 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.

  • 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 Entropius ( 188861 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:21PM (#35445250)

    I think that any arrest that doesn't lead to charges being filed (and not dropped) should require financial compensation, and any criminal trial in which the charges do not meet the standard of preponderance of the evidence (the standard used in civil cases) should require a hell of a lot more financial compensation.

    There should be a serious disincentive for the police to arrest people without cause.

  • Re:nothing to hide (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @02:27PM (#35445314)

    this from an anonymous coward


  • 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.

  • Re:Pretext (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anyGould ( 1295481 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @03:07PM (#35445786)

    If DNA testing will exonerate you, why not sample your DNA?

    Same reason why I know a few parents who won't get their kids fingerprinted for the police "safety program" - scope creep.

    I'd have less objection to supplying DNA when charged with a crime, but they won't throw that sample out afterwards, will they? They'll stash it away, and you're now a de facto suspect in every crime from now on.

    By which I mean, every time they get a DNA sample, they're going to run it against yours to see if you match. The same principle applies to the child safety program - sure, it sounds good to protect your kid, but they also plug that fingerprint data into the national databases. So twenty years from now, if Little Timmy ends up in the wrong bar one night, he's screwed.

    Slightly off-topic, but relevant - when I enrolled in university they asked for an "emergency contact" (name and phone number). Turns out that info goes straight to the fundraising department, so that when you move, they can call your relative and "update their records". Scope creep.

  • by honkycat ( 249849 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @03:20PM (#35445954) Homepage Journal

    Because I don't trust them to get the statistics right. Hammering a DNA database looking for matches will produce many false positives (due to the birthday paradox), and recent history suggests that those doing the searching will try (and likely succeed) in presenting to the jury the statistics that are correct when you test a single pair of samples.

    I have serious reservations about the legitimacy of doing a wide search to see if you can find other charges to levy against someone you've picked up on suspicion of a single crime. Sure, check for outstanding warrants, and if there is actual evidence of a connection to another crime, investigate. However, I don't see that forcing someone picked up for crime A makes it ok to force him to consent to anything not directly related to that investigation.

  • by demonbug ( 309515 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @07:03PM (#35448408) Journal

    In Britain there was a case where the jury actually received instruction on Bayes' theorem and the correct statistical techniques for interpreting DNA evidence, instead of relying on gut notions and misunderstandings of how DNA matching works. When the judge discovered the jury had been given this knowledge, he threw the case out the window. Maybe someone else remembers more details. I just read this in a book.

    I've heard of a similar case in the U.S., but in that case the important detail you are missing was that the statistical instruction came from one of the members of the jury, who was a statistician (or maybe microbiologist - I don't remember). The information he provided to the other jurors was correct, but the fact that the information was presented without the chance for cross examination was the sticking point. This information should have been provided by an expert witness during the trial - if it wasn't, then the defense (or prosecutor, depending on which way it goes I suppose) screwed up. Just because I'm an expert in something, doesn't mean I get to use that expertise to provide new information to the jury outside the court room - even if I'm right (and if it isn't presented in court, who will challenge it if I'm wrong?). It should, properly, be part of discovery - giving both sides a chance to review the information, ask questions, and present counter witnesses if necessary.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard