A DNA Balance Sheet

A DNA Balance Sheet

DNA testing can convict the guilty; it can also destroy the privacy of millions.

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CREDITS

§

Wisconsin

requires that DNA samples collected in state databanks be destroyed following profiling. According to testimony delivered at a National Institute of Justice committee meeting, however, the state has yet to implement this requirement.

§

Arkansas

,

California

,

Montana

,

New York

and

Vermont

mandate that samples and profiles of individuals whose convictions are overturned be destroyed or eliminated from the state’s databank automatically. Most other states require individuals whose convictions are overturned to petition for elimination of their profiles.

§

Indiana

,

New Hampshire

,

New Mexico

,

Rhode Island

,

Texas

,

Vermont

and

Wyoming

prohibit use of DNA samples for genetic analysis of physical or behavioral traits.

DEBITS

§

Illinois

prohibits any expungement of DNA profiles from its databank, even if an individual’s conviction is overturned.

§

Louisiana

is the only state that currently authorizes DNA databanking of arrestees–in this case those arrested for sexual offenses.

§

Pennsylvania

and

Massachusetts

require that specimens stored in their DNA databanks be retained for a lengthy period: a minimum of fifty years in Pennsylvania and “indefinitely” in Massachusetts. Most other states authorize or require storage of tissue samples without providing any guidance on whether or when samples should be destroyed.

§

Alabama

,

Georgia

,

New Mexico

,

Tennessee

,

Virginia

,

Wisconsin

and

Wyoming

have databanking requirements that cover individuals convicted of any felony, the most expansive databanks to date.

FUTURE BILLS

§

New York:

Last spring Governor George Pataki called for legislation that would extend DNA databanking to cover anyone guilty of a class-A misdemeanor as well as any convicted felons. Several bills in the New York State legislature followed, though none were passed before the legislative session ended. A bill that closely resembles Pataki’s proposal is expected to be reintroduced in the next legislative session.

§

North Carolina:

Senate Bill 165, which would have extended the state’s databank to cover people arrested for serious felony offenses, was withdrawn from the floor but will probably be reintroduced in a modified form in the next legislative session. As presently written, this bill does not require the destruction of samples collected from arrestees who are not convicted.

§

Rhode Island:

A proposal to databank all convicted felons died in this year’s legislative session because of concerns expressed by various parties. The bill’s sponsor intends to reintroduce a bill calling for a more limited expansion, with the stated ultimate goal of having the state’s databank cover all felons.

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