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DNA Testing Proposed For All Felony Arrests In New Mexico

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the keep-your-mitts-off-my-base-pairs dept.

Crime 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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Pretext (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pretext (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445364)

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

Way better than my state, Texas, where the Supreme Court recently had to overturn a Texas judge's decision to not allow the defendant to use DNA testing [cnn.com] because he wasn't innocent enough. Wow.

Re:Pretext (5, Insightful)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pretext (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445816)

Because that DNA will then be on record. I know law enforcement agencies (and prosecutors, for that matter) well enough to refrain from giving them any biological information wherever possible.

If I'm on trial and rationality and other evidence seems insufficient, then I'll give them a drop of blood... But I'd rather go to trial first than be part of the masses shuffled through blood-letting under suspicion so someone (anyone) can build a database of citizenry DNA.

Re:Pretext (2)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446340)

Take your own damn DNA if you want to mount a defense. This here DNA's fer prosecutin.

nothing to hide (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445094)

If you have nothing to hide, you should have no problem with this.

Re:nothing to hide (1)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445110)

this from an anonymous coward

Re:nothing to hide (3, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445314)

this from an anonymous coward

WHOOOSH!

Re:nothing to hide (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445154)

What if your DNA flies with the wind and somehow ends up in the sample taken from a crime scene?

Also, my captcha is "convect", now apropriate :)

Re:nothing to hide (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445614)

What if your DNA flies with the wind

Then do your masturbating indoors on windy days.

Re:nothing to hide (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445238)

Anonymous Idiot:"If you have nothing to hide, you should have no problem with this."

Sad Gopnik: "I have nothing to hide, yet the cops still arrested me for indecent exposure!"

Re:nothing to hide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447094)

YAW! (Yet another WHOOSH!).

That AC obviously knew what he was saying and what the context he was saying it in.

Re:nothing to hide (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446022)

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.

Re:nothing to hide (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446562)

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.

Booked for a felony no (4, Interesting)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Booked for a felony no (0)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445432)

...under the guise of "it's like a fingerprint" they are fishing for other crimes that can be attached to the arrestee...

Do you really see this as a bad thing? Is finding someone's DNA at a crime scene not like finding their fingerprints? I think it would be even more likely to be significant because in most cases it would come in the form of some bodily fluid such as blood or semen which would probably be very relevant to the crime.

I don't see them looking for DNA on glasses or cigs or other items in the same way the dust for prints due to the expense. So just having been at a crime scene before it was a crime scene is unlikely to get your DNA in some database.

Re:Booked for a felony no (0)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445780)

Because DNA, when part of public record as this will do, means that whether you are prone to diseases will now be part of the public record? You okay with insurance companies swabbing you too, bucko me boy?

Re:Booked for a felony no (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445940)

You'd better study a bit before making statements :)

The DNA fingerprint taken for identification purposes gives NO information about clinical status, prone-ness for diseases or whatever else; what one could derive from different analysis on the "biological sample" is an entirely different story (systematic SNP typization can and does give deep clinically relevant information and that IS a privacy issue).

The information extracted to perform identification of subject gives far less information than your social security number; and I am pretty sure you don't object your local police department having access to your SSN.

Point is that in several countries (England, Italy, ...) what is kept and stored is NOT ONLY the DNA fingerprint so extracted (that is a sequence of 20-30 letters/numbers that, really, doesn't say ANYTHING, you can believe it since... this is my job) but also the PHYSICAL SAMPLE; and there yes, any other thing can be done with that; note that keeping the sample makes definitively no sense for any investigation purpose.

I personally think that in a modern country the DNA *fingerprint* should be collected and stored on record at birth for all citizens (and to foregneirs entering the country), there is no risk whatsoever in that and that would help investigations and past-disaster identification.... what really makes no sense is keeping the biological samples; that exposes to the risks you cite and is also completely useless.

Basing assertions on correct information is important, otherwise it is just to easy to make confusion; sorry if I seemed a bit rude.

A.

Re:Booked for a felony no (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446206)

that might be NOW - but when you accept this measure, you are now offically on the slippery slope. You plan to notice and whine when they DO start collecting samples as well as sequences? Are you even going to notice?

Your optimism is astounding, and i note this in defense of my original post.

Re:Booked for a felony no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446488)

I'm sorry but I seemed to not be clear...

Problem is that in most countries the DO, CURRENTLY, keep the samples and not only the fingerprint. This is what happens in USA, in Italy, in England, in France, ....

Maybe if people was more informed this would be something to shout about; claiming privacy violations for the fingerprinting just adds mud to the water and hides the real problem.

Honestly and frankly: my DNA fingerprint would tell you that in position X I have variant 5,7, in position Y I have 9,1, and so on for 10 positions: all taken in an ocean of 3 billion nucleotides and carefully selected to be "non clinically relevant" positions. So what ? I would have no problem in printing that information on my business card and adding it to my email signature. And by the way if I give you my business card you can have that information four hours later with a $40 test on what I have left on the card....

The real issue is that there is no reason, no logic, no need and no argument to also keep the samples (the ones collected from an identified person I mean, the samples collected from a crime scene are entirely another issue as they are "evidence"), still in most countries these ARE KEPT, and probably all the civil-right-shouters should try to understand things... just to shout in the right direction.

(PS: In the fields of logic and ethics the "slippery slope" argument is usually not accepted :), but I see what you mean).

A.

Re:Booked for a felony no (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446924)

thank you for the extra information. I did not consider the difference and did presume the worst; If they did collect just the sample, i have so little trust that I would not necessarily believe that they would restrain themselves from taking a full sample (in cases where they wanted too for whatever reason even if they did not in the average case) even if it was policy not to. However, your take and followup are appreciated and added to the conversation!

p.s. I only use the slippery slope logic matters where public outcry is required, the corollary is the slow-boiling-crab argument which is the usual method of eroding civil liberty-with-justification. It's too prevalent and done deliberately in matters of state (as taught by psychology) to be discounted.

Re:Booked for a felony no (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446992)

Pardon about replying twice; I also wanted to point out to other readers of the thread that these DNA arguments must be made in light of anticipated future advances. What is difficult today be trivial tomorrow, so a worst case (slippery slope) argument is more valid in these arguments then others. I usually consider these policies (where DRM is another example) in light of the effect over a generation, not just today. I'm sure you do as well.

For the drama of the statement: In twenty years it will be on the spot, transmitted via near field communication to the police car, and uploaded to a database that will invariably be protected with the same security as today (if only moore's law applied to security and social engineering too!)

Re:Booked for a felony no (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446314)

Maybe you should fix your egregiously borken health care system so that its flaws don't constantly intrude on everything else in your country.

Re:Booked for a felony no (4, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445954)

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.

IMHO DNA evidence should only be for defense (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446968)

... 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.

Hear hear!

IMHO DNA evidence should only be usable for defense.

  - A mismatch makes it obvious that the accused (if not a chimera) is not the perpetrator.
  - A "match" ("non-exclusion") makes a bunch of statistical assumptions, some of which have little or no evidence in science. (Not to mention that it does poorly for excluding twins and relatives.)

So convictions should be based on OTHER things than DNA evidence.

Re:IMHO DNA evidence should only be for defense (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447032)

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.

Not "entirely" innocent until proven guilty now (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445520)

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.

Police trolling for DNA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445146)

Not like the police don't arrest people on false pretenses and then drop the charges or anything...

Re:Police trolling for DNA (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445242)

It's worse than that, they might legitimately arrest somebody and then find out later that the individual is in fact innocent or that there was no crime committed. At which point you've now arrested somebody and tested their DNA. Any bets as to whether or not they destroy the sample once they've checked it?

Re:Police trolling for DNA (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445448)

Do they purge your fingerprints from the system in the same circumstances?

Re:Police trolling for DNA (2)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445902)

No. And that gives reason for us not to trust them with DNA.

Re:Police trolling for DNA (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Police trolling for DNA (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445764)

the reason for the arrest should be recorded within a very short time of it being made (5 minutes, say, in most cases), and the rule about charges being filed should require those charges to relate to the reason for the arrest, just so there's no dodging the consequences of making a wrongful arrest because you eventually got them for something.
This wouldn't preclude persuing charges on whatever else, but would mean that persuing those charges wouldn't prevent the initial arrest from being deemed to be false and compensation paid.

Re:Police trolling for DNA (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445866)

A-freakin-men

I am more of the mind that any officer above a statical average of dismissals should be fired (yes, fired) with prejudice, but any case, police can and do arrest for no reason, resulting in jail time and court time and huge incurrence of loss on the part of the falsely accused all the time.

It is an extreme affront to our rights.

Obey. (1)

BabyDuckHat (1503839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445152)

Security is more important than your personal privacy or perverse incentives concerns citizen.

No. (5, Insightful)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 3 years ago | (#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. (5, Insightful)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:No. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445476)

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

Re:No. (1)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445812)

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?"

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446020)

If they want your DNA sample, they can get it already. Hell, they have my sample - I donate blood. I had blood tests done at few point in my life too - remember the last time you got your fasting blood sugar checked?

And if you never go to doctor for anything, then it is possible to get your DNA from everything including shit flowing down your sewer pipe.

DNA is not something sekrit. Everywhere you go, you leave it behind. And it persists too. If you know someone well that gets killed, they may just find DNA sample of you there too. DNA proves nothing except that you came in contact with the person at some point in their recent history. In of itself, it doesn't prove you did anything. It is the circumstances of where it was found that matters.

Two more points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445376)

1. Many crimes which are designated "felonies" are products of drug prohibition (artificial law), not human nature (natural law). This means that a peaceful, non-violent hippie growing marijuana for personal use is thrown into the same category as violent criminals.

2. As usual with government, the goal here isn't merely power, but money. The elite at the top are constantly looking for ways to justify more spending, more borrowing, and in general more expansion of the business of government. The bigger and more ubiquitous the business of government, the more lucrative it is for those who know how to exploit it.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445514)

Acutally in the US you are guilty until proven innocent in practice. The euphemism is innocent until proven guilty, should be changed to innocient until accussed. T

Re:No. (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446098)

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 slippery slope when we routinely keep the samples.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446120)

So what you're saying is: if someone killed one of your relatives but the cops had only inconclusive circumstantial evidence that limited the suspects to 5 people, you would be against taking their fingerprints because it's just an accusation not a conviction.

Re:No. (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446958)

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 people, but not as evidence lock them up.

We can prove you didn't do it or that it's possible you did it, but there's no way to know for sure if you are guilty, based on DNA evidence alone.

Arrested or Convicted? (1)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445202)

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.

Re:Arrested or Convicted? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445266)

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.

Re:Arrested or Convicted? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445312)

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.

Re:Arrested or Convicted? (2)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445374)

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 to influence votes, then we have a bigger problem. Second, it sets the precedent for other rights being removed. Third, no one should ever have their vote removed even if they committed a crime: there actually are bad laws, and the people most affected by them should have the most right to vote against their supporters.

Re:Arrested or Convicted? (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446460)

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.

Arrested (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445390)

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 left for this country because the people are begging to have their rights taken away so they can feel safe from the terrorists/immigrants/pedophiles/druggies/teenagers/neighbor with shaggy lawn.

Will miss you, due process (5, Interesting)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Will miss you, due process (5, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445474)

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.

Re:Will miss you, due process (1)

Nukenbar (215420) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446574)

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

Re:Will miss you, due process (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445840)

To be fair, most of the people who are arrested probably are guilty. Due process exists to protect the small percentage of suspects who are innocent. It is inevitable that this small percentage will be unjustly inconvenienced by the process in some way. But just like taxes, the small chance of being wrongly arrested is part of the cost of living in a society.

Re:Will miss you, due process (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447048)

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.

pros and cons (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445292)

biggest objection i have is who is paying for this? DNA tests don't grow on trees.

then there is the fruit of poison tree. if some one were arrested for no reason, is their DNA still admissible?

the most costly is the number of people suing because they were arrested just to get a DNA sample. Who is going to pay for the defense and the settlement?

other then that it'll make criminals easier to catch.

I propose DNA Testing For All Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445296)

Banksters [baselinescenario.com] .

Yours In Krasnoyarsk,
K. Trout

P.S.: Detain Newt Gingrich !!!

Re:I propose DNA Testing For All Wall Street (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445418)

Why pick on Newt? He only cheats on his wives because he loves his country so much! [huffingtonpost.com]

Pre-emptive arrests (2)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445304)

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?

Re:Pre-emptive arrests (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445484)

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 to fight crime.

I must be a criminal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445320)

I've been arrested twice. Both cases were dismissed by the DA as "no complaint", meaning they didn't think there was enough evidence that a crime had been committed to make it worth prosecuting. So, am I now a criminal who forfeit any privacy rights, just because some cop decided he didn't like me?

Re:I must be a criminal (1)

NotAGoodNickname (1925512) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445712)

I love stories like this. Why were you arrested TWICE? What made "some cop not like you"?

Re:I must be a criminal (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446286)

I've seen youtube videos of people being arrested for everything from 'reckless photography' to 'skateboarding with intent'. Typically they were charged with something generic like "creating a public disturbance". Are they bullshit reasons? Yes. But those people still got arrested on the basis that the police officer didn't like the (legal) thing they were doing.

Needs safeguards. (2, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Needs safeguards. (2)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445622)

None. They won't be. Goodbye 5th amendment.

Re:Needs safeguards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446046)

There are no guarantees, it's the Government. And you'd have to spend massive amounts of money to get a court to have it removed from their databases. And even then it's still iffy.

This is unilateral personal data absorbtion program they're suggesting here. Until the rules on both sides of the legal line are equivalent, law bodies and officials being prosecuted to the same extent if not further than the accused for breach of constitutional rights, this sort of scenario is the most dangerous because of our continued integration of advanced technologies.

The 'data' can essentialy, go in, but never come out!

"the modern day equivalent to fingerprinting" (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445330)

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).

Re:"the modern day equivalent to fingerprinting" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445770)

It appears the scientific community agrees - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fingerprint#Criticism

As an aside, this reminded me of a story concerning several cases where the defendant had his DNA ran through the state's system against everyone - rather than just the few suspects involved in his specific case. In each case, I believe there were more than 10 additional matches that had 10 or more of the 13 markers (many with 13 of 13 IIRC). This brought up questioning on just how unique DNA fingerprints really are. My google-fu for said story is terrible.

Re:"the modern day equivalent to fingerprinting" (1)

Nukenbar (215420) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446596)

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

Re:"the modern day equivalent to fingerprinting" (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447128)

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.

cant they just put us in pods and be done with it (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445332)

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 freedoms some people in society are willing to completely give up in exchange for heightened paranoia and a false sense of security.

How private is your DNA? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445416)

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 unpleasant. You could probably keep your DNA private, too, as long as you didn't mind wearing a stilsuit whenever you went out.

Our intuitive notions of "privacy" simply don't apply to DNA. Obviously nobody supports arrests simply for the purpose of harassment, but that's already illegal (and hard to prove). But this is a brave new world: the cops can get their hands on my DNA if they want to. Adding a procedure less difficult than taking fingerprints to an already (presumably valid) arrest just doesn't seem like it's any more a violation of my rights than I was already doing.

(And yes, I said "presumably valid". Conviction is not the same as grounds for arrest, but they're not allowed to go arresting people just because they feel like it. Invalid arrests remain invalid, and conflating the two issues just makes it more complicated.)

Re:How private is your DNA? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445620)

One choice is certainly to roll over and take it.

Another choice is to point out that new technologies may require new concepts. In this case, the new technologies are DNA fingerprinting and computer records systems. So maybe instead of reasoning that DNA is not private information, we should recognize the potential for misusing a DNA database and require that police only obtain DNA from a suspect directly, and that the DNA only be used very narrowly.

Re:How private is your DNA? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446048)

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 offer more protections to company's digital locks then we do for our private DNA code. There is almost absolutely no circumstance where Sony could be legally ordered to give up its keys.

The Ultimate ID (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445466)

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 the outrage from the scandal tipped the balance. Life is funny that way.

Re:The Ultimate ID (1)

Devoidoid (1207090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446468)

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 the outrage from the scandal tipped the balance.

Didn't this already happen? Except without enough outrage to make no never mind.

DNA is not a unique ID. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447142)

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...

Finally, it has been recently shown to be trivial to take a sample, multiply it, and use it to contaminate a crime scene or collected evidence, framing the sample's source. Similar techniques could be used to spoof DNA identity scanners.

I personally don't care - sort of (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445470)

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 help stimulate the economy by allowing them to better regulate risks. Peoples' DNA can be very valuable to certain groups. I'm not sure whether or not cases on the government sharing that information have ever been tried. I mean, private companies already have access to your social security number, so somewhere there has to be information sharing going on. Does anyone know whether or not there's case law on this?

Re:I personally don't care - sort of (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:I personally don't care - sort of (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445894)

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.

Re:I personally don't care - sort of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446114)

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.

A finger print is no where near as comprehensive as a DNA sample. There are many known ways to duplicate fingerprints and many ways to discredit
finger print evidence.

No so for DNA and with the growing criticism of the accuracy of DNA (

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fingerprint#Criticism

the easiest reference), there should be no storage of DNA for any NOT convicted.

Modern day equivalence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35445518)

Isn't fingerprinting the modern-day equivalent of fingerprinting?

Removal? (1)

Larry_Dillon (20347) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445654)

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.

Re:Removal? (1)

Byzantine (85549) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445778)

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

Hot Police Women (0)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445662)

If the policewoman who wants to take my DNA is hot enough, I will gladly fire a sample into any of her orifices (she can choose which).

Re:Hot Police Women (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446304)

Just hope she hasn't had a tracheotomy.

23andMe (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445664)

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.

Already do this in Indiana (1)

BumbaCLot (472046) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445680)

I received a 2nd DUI in 5 years (an A Felony).I had to serve 65 days on electronic monitoring (lax house arrest) and they did this when I entered the program.

Re:Already do this in Indiana (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445884)

The main difference here is you were convicted. I think many of us would consider 65 days for 2 DUIs pretty lax (granted there are a lot of problems with DUI procedure that makes many convictions questionable.)

What is happening here is:
Guy records cop making arrest.
Cop arrests person because it made him angry.
Cop charges citizen with felony wiretapping.
Citizen gets his DNA stuck into a public database that the rest of the citizenry don't have to be part of.

There's a reason we have juries.

Re:Already do this in Indiana (1)

BumbaCLot (472046) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446162)

That wasn't my whole sentence, just the part of the system where I was DNA tested. That said, a .08 where you become a felon and a .07 where you get told 'be safe'! are about a third of a beer at some people's weight.

Re:Already do this in Indiana (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446370)

I agree with you that the threshold is terrible for DUI. This might interest you, it goes over a lot of the problems with due process when it comes to DUI, and covers some of the problems with the technology behind it:

http://www.duicenter.com/lectures/exception01.html [duicenter.com]

That said, the solution to bad legal protocol is not light sentences. I'd rather see a drunk driver walk than an innocent person get convicted for it, but having light sentences and violated due process is the worst of both worlds.

What about the right to have DNA tests done? (1)

HappyEngineer (888000) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445882)

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 guilty.

What's next, PMITA Prison for arrests? (2)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35445950)

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.

Confused (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446044)

Is it just me, or are half the comments here posted by Charlie Sheen?

Prosecutor's fallacy (1)

wired_parrot (768394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446548)

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 evidence pointing them to the crime, instead of applying a large data-dredging net throughout the prison population.

After convictions, ok. After arrests == bullshit. (1)

jbeach (852844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446772)

Innocent until proven guilty. Why is that so hard for people to remember?

Nothing to hide? Protecting the public? (1)

GeorgeS (11440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446836)

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.

Start with the real criminals.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446868)

Collect samples from all Politicians, Lawyers and Judges...

If it's *okay* for us, then it's *MANDATORY* for them...

For convicts, maybe. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446892)

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 done, independently. Even DUI suspects have that right in most states.

If the person is acquitted or the charges dismissed, there should be a requirement to destroy the samples, and the DNA record, within 48 hours at most.

It was recently discovered that many past animal and human genome sequences, made very carefully by scientists in the best labs available, were hopelessly contaminated. DNA sequencing is still a very tricky business and routinely using it for evidence -- or making a permanent record on somebody -- is probably inadvisable.

There is nothing on this Earth that is more "personal" than your DNA. I predict Constitutional challenges to this.
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