Archive for the ‘felonies’ Category

BTC – Classic conflict of interests here, crime prevention authorities believe wholeheartedly and mistakenly that you would trade privacy for your security. On this slope is CODIS, or a Combined DNA Index System.

In Washington state, Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, testified this year in favor of a DNA-on-arrest bill, but said it never made it out of committee.

“We view the DNA database as a tremendous crime-prevention tool. Stranger rapists don’t just do it once,” said Pierce. “People get focused on the idea of individual freedoms and protecting privacy, but most of the public, if they understood how the database works, would gladly trade that off for the crime prevention benefits.”

c/o The Weekly.com

In all 50 states, DNA is collected from some, if not all, convicted felons, and added to the FBI’s ever-growing database. Some states, like New Hampshire, limit collection to cases of murder, sexual assault and robbery. In 21 states (see chart), legislators have mandated the collection of DNA in all felony arrests. The motivation behind the change is simple: Collecting DNA on arrest rather than conviction will get a lot more people into the database a lot faster. Bigger database, more DNA on file, more matches, more convictions.

But the push to expand the DNA database has drawn battle lines in the remaining 29 states without DNA on arrest, including Connecticut, where the American Civil Liberties Union has opposed and defeated the measure twice.

“The problem with taking DNA samples from arrestees is basically the presumption of innocence until proven guilty,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “The cornerstone of the criminal justice system is turned on its head when innocent people are included in the DNA data bank.”

In Washington state, Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, testified this year in favor of a DNA-on-arrest bill, but said it never made it out of committee.

“We view the DNA database as a tremendous crime-prevention tool. Stranger rapists don’t just do it once,” said Pierce. “People get focused on the idea of individual freedoms and protecting privacy, but most of the public, if they understood how the database works, would gladly trade that off for the crime prevention benefits.”

Karen Foster, DNA Chair for the Surviving Parents Coalition, hopes the story of Howard Dean Jamison will help to motivate Connecticut legislators in 2010 to join the 21 other states that have DNA on arrest. The coalition is made up of parents with children who have been abducted, sexually assaulted or murdered, or who are still missing.

But Schneider insists that in addition to constitutional concerns, the time and money spent on an “unchecked expansion” of the DNA database would be better spent on initiatives like more community policing.

“This huge expansion of the DNA database is unlikely to make us safer,” said Schneider. “DNA is only found at a small fraction of crime scenes.”

Like Schneider, Gov. M. Jodi Rell is opposed to collecting DNA on arrest.

“The governor’s preference is for swabbing to be done post-conviction, but immediately post-conviction,” said spokesman Rich Harris. “In the past, swabs were often not taken until an inmate was preparing to leave the system. The sooner the information is in the system, the sooner investigators can use the information.”

There are some heavy hitters, however, including state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who believe the legislature should take up DNA on arrest again in 2010, and pass it.

“I have supported and backed expanded use of DNA by law enforcement,” said Blumenthal. “It provides a powerful tool that can both convict and exonerate, depending on the facts and circumstances, and I support expanding its use consistent with Constitutional protections.”

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, based in West Hartford, is in favor of collecting DNA on arrest as well. In fact, Cromwell Police Chief Anthony Salvatore, legislative co-chair for the association, says he’d like to see a law that allows DNA to be collected not only for felony arrests, but for all criminal arrests, including misdemeanors.

“From the point of view of law enforcement, the more samples we have, the better,” said Chief Jim Strillacci of West Hartford, Salvatore’s co-chair. “We elect lawmakers to make judgments on moral issues. We’re a country based on individual freedom. We don’t want to take rights away unduly.”

Blumenthal’s point that DNA can exonerate as well as convict is made by many of the advocates of DNA on arrest. But at The Innocence Project in New York City, which has exonerated 245 people through the use of DNA since its founding in 1992, Policy Director Stephen Saloom says the organization is actually not focused on expanding the DNA database.

:::MORE HERE:::

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