Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Innocent until proven guilty?
The collecting of DNA from convicted criminals to form state databases has been used for many years in providing a genetic fingerprint to find suspects from a crime scene. However, recent ethical debate has sprung up on the new policy of 25 states which are taking DNA samples of people who are arrested but have not yet been charged with a crime and may not be found guilty. Even if these people are cleared of the crime, their DNA stays in the criminal database. Many civil-liberties organizatios are taking this issue to court, saying that it violates the Fourth Amendment, invades personal privacy and discards the "innocent until proven guilty" clause. People are also concerned that their DNA sample could be made available to medical research without their consent. A person's DNA is very private and should be treated as more than just a standard police booking procedure. Lower level courts have decided both ways on the issue, some agreeing that it is just a routine procedure like fingerprinting, and some calling it unconstituional. Hopefully, this issue will soon be taken to the Supreme Court and decided once and for all.