Pro’s and Con’s to the Expansion of DNA Sampling

How would you feel about proposed legislation:

  1. that would require DNA samples from people convicted of ALL Penal Law misdemeanors;
  2. that would require DNA samples from all felony arrestees;
  3. that would require DNA samples from all adjudicated youthful offenders; and
  4. that would create a misdemeanor offense for the refusal to give a DNA sample and a directive to law enforcement to take samples if a person fails to provide one.

Most people agree that proposals (2), (3), & (4) should be opposed. Requiring a DNA sample from all people arrested of a felony, regardless of whether they are ever indicted, let alone convicted, of the felony, poses major issues for encroachment upon one’s individual privacy rights. Of course, sampling DNA at any time is going to invade an individual’s privacy, however, the issue is, when is the State justified in doing so? This becomes tricky with proposal (1). In this circumstance, an individual is actually convicted of breaking the law, albeit, only for a misdemeanor offense. Generally, when citizens are convicted of crimes, they lose certain rights they might otherwise enjoy. Should the freedom from forced DNA sampling be one of those rights lost? Proponents of DNA sampling, and the expansion of it, point to the use of DNA sampling to solve serious felony cases (DNA samples from Petit Larceny convictions have been used to provide evidence in 66 homicide cases, 193 sexual assaults, and 87 burglaries statewide since 2006) and its potential to exonerate those wrongfully accused. Those against the expansion have privacy concerns, worry about cost burdens on the state, intrusiveness, and whether DNA information collected could be expanded to other uses in the future.