Deoxyribonucleic acid, or simply DNA, is the nucleic acid which contains the genetic makeup or “building blocks” of every living organism. Like fingerprints, DNA is specific to each human being and is often referred to as the blueprint for everything in the human body. A person’s DNA does not change in his or her lifetime and for these reasons DNA has played a large role in the criminal justice system.
Since its first admittance in court in 1985, DNA evidence has been used to assist in determining the guilt or innocence of individuals across the world in a variety of cases. In 1994, the DNA Identification Act authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to set standards for forensic DNA testing and the gathering of DNA samples for sex offenders. This eventually led to a national DNA database called the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS. Since that time, some people have lobbied for a mandatory DNA database that requires that all citizens be required to give a sample of their DNA or that samples be taken at birth. This has raised many concerns for Americans who believe that any mandatory database would be unconstitutional or a violation of privacy. For this reason, we’ll look at why, unless a suspect in a crime or convicted of a crime above the grade of certain misdemeanors, citizens should not be required to give a sample for any DNA database.
Convictions & Acquittals
As it stands today, all 50 states have their own DNA database. Some states require that just sex offenders or violent felons provide a DNA sample of some kind in order to maintain a DNA profile of offenders. This is a good policy for a couple reasons. Keeping a DNA profile of offenders could actually help in the investigations of future crimes and could aid in the conviction or acquittal of tried suspects. A significant number of previously convicted violent criminals as well as sex offenders are repeat offenders. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics on recidivism, “Of...