DNA to be Collected From Anyone Arrested by Federal Law Enforcement Officials

A proposed federal law would require anyone arrested for a federal crime to provide a DNA sample to federal law enforcement officials to be stored in a nationwide DNA database called CODIS, according to a recent article. The DNA samples would be swabbed from the inside of a person’s cheek. The Department of Justice expects that this new law will increase the number of people whose DNA samples have been collected after an arrest by 1.2 million each year.

In support of the federal law, law enforcement officials say the DNA samples of people arrested will help law enforcement officials catch criminals and also prevent people from committing crimes. Critics of the law worry about whether the DNA will be used for purposes other than law enforcement, although federal officials confirmed that the privacy laws will apply to the DNA that is collected.

Currently, only people convicted of crimes have their DNA collected and stored in the database. According to the article, people who have been arrested for a federal crime and have their DNA taken but are not subsequently convicted of the crime can contact the United States Department of Justice and have their DNA samples destroyed. Whether people arrested for a federal crime will be informed of that fact or how they would otherwise know they can do this is not clear.

In Florida, police routinely take DNA from people who have been convicted of a felony crime. Florida law also requires a person to surrender to a DNA sample voluntarily if they have been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony crime. The Florida Legislature is currently considering proposed laws similar to this one that would expand the Florida database of DNA samples to include everyone arrested for a felony and other select misdemeanors.

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