Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Obama supports DNA sampling when arrested

Politico's Josh Gerstein tells us that, "President Obama backs DNA test in arrests." In an interview with John Walsh on America's most wanted the President professed his strong support of gathering DNA of everyone arrested for a felony crime:
"It's the right thing to do, and then, as you well know, John, this is where the national registry becomes so important, making sure that, not only are we getting these DNA tests done state by state, but then, nationally, everybody's talking to each other. That's how we make sure that we continue to tighten the grip around folks who have perpetrated these crimes."

It's a great sentiment. The problem is, that when it comes to DNA testing upon arrest, it's wrong. In the interview John Walsh says that it's no different that taking fingerprints or an arrest photo. But that is not true.

DNA samples, unlike fingerprints, don't just identify you. They have the potential to reveal health issues, genetic relationships (siblings, parents), and possibly potential behaviors. You may give up the right to protect this information if you are convicted, but to take it upon arrest flies in the face of "guilty until proven innocent." Requiring DNA sample of people who have been arrested, but not indicted, let alone convicted, says the exact opposite. It assumes you are guilty until the DNA sample proves you innocent. That is not the way justice is served in the U.S.

See the portion of the interview that talks about DNA (about halfway through on Youtube.

See the entire interview on amw.com