You no longer have to be convicted of a federal crime in order for the U.S. government to take your DNA. Under the provisions of a little-known law passed a year ago, the Department of Justice will take DNA from anyone who is even arrested on federal charges.
The act also provides for taking DNA from illegal immigrants detained in the U.S., whether charged with a crime or not.
Being convicted of a crime is, therefore, no longer required to get you into the FBI’s national DNA database.
“Obviously, the bigger the DNA database, the better,” said Lynn Parrish, the spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, based in Washington. “If this had been implemented years ago, it could have prevented many crimes. Rapists are generalists. They don’t just rape, they also murder.”
Peter Neufeld, a lawyer who is a co-director of the Innocence Project, which has exonerated dozens of prison inmates using DNA evidence, said the government was overreaching by seeking to apply DNA sampling as universally as fingerprinting.
“Whereas fingerprints merely identify the person who left them,” Mr. Neufeld said, “DNA profiles have the potential to reveal our physical diseases and mental disorders. It becomes intrusive when the government begins to mine our most intimate matters.” — New York Times
If you were arrested but found not guilty, had the charges dropped, or were never charged with a crime in the first place, the only way to get your DNA back out of the database is by court order.
But, hey, you can trust the government, right? After all, the government has never abused its power, and never has anyone in the government built up giant dossiers of information on people in order to advance his own personal agenda. It’s because everyone in the government is so trustworthy, pure of heart, and good of intention that we don’t need to protect ourselves from the government. They would never harm innocent people.
(To help prevent this sort of backdoor legislation in the future, join Downsize DC’s effort to pass the Read the Bills Act.)