Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 5, 2012

Con: Innocent don't belong in database

Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — Law enforcement should not be able to collect the DNA from anyone unless they are convicted of a crime.

Taking someone's DNA before they are convicted will force the suspect to be in the DNA database even if they are innocent. It invades the privacy of the suspect and the rights he/she should have as an American citizen.

The more DNA put into the database, the less useful it becomes. The more the DNA they collect, the greater the costs. Having everyone's DNA in a database would cause a lot more problems than it would solve in the long run.

Giving law enforcement the ability to put people in a DNA database will prevent them from having a clean record. They could have done nothing wrong whatsoever, and still be stuck in the system because their DNA was taken and held for future crimes the person may or may not do.

Once you get arrested and they take your DNA, it is very difficult to get yourself taken out of the database. If you are put into the DNA database, it basically gives you an offender profile, which gives you a record with law enforcement since your DNA is never returned to you or removed from the system.

According to Laura K. Donohue, Ph.D, from Stanford University, "The idea that you could easily retract your DNA from this felony database is fiction."

Putting non-convicted people in the DNA database is an invasion of their privacy and their rights as American citizens. When people are put into a database with law enforcement, especially the DNA database, it could make someone feel as if they are guilty before they actually are. It can invade someone's right to privacy because their DNA will be on record with law enforcement their whole life, even if they never do anything wrong.

According to Tania Simoncelli from the American Civil Liberties Union, "Storing DNA taken from unsuspected individuals in a criminal database undermines presumptive innocence and sets a chilling precedent for the data collection of the government of its citizens."

Storing someone's DNA is much different than having their fingerprints. Having someone's DNA is basically like having their complete genetic code. This could cause multiple other problems if it is lost or misused in ways that violate the peoples' right to privacy.

DNA is a well-designed technology to help solve a crime, but having everyone's DNA collected and processed will cause the DNA database to be less effective than it should be. Plus the more people put into the system, the greater the cost.

Peter Neufeld, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, said that banking DNA could cause police to engage in pretext arrests.

A pretext arrest is when someone is arrested for a crime without probable cause, just so that their DNA can be put into the system. Arresting people for a false accusation can cause a lot more problems than it will solve.

Jake Mitchell is a senior at Traverse City Central High School.