NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Using Dna Database To Fight Crime

August 1, 2002

One of the most potent weapons law-enforcement authorities have to solve crimes, particularly the crime of rape, is DNA comparisons. Nevertheless, so far only a minority of states require DNA collection from convicted felons.

  • Specifically, only 23 states mandate it for every felony conviction -- and some states don't even test murderers or kidnappers.
  • All states take DNA samples from those convicted of serious sex crimes -- but for other crimes they go their own ways.
  • Some state leaders say they are concerned that across-the-board testing will be too expensive -- but operating a DNA database only costs a few million dollars a year, even in a major state such as California, and the costs are coming down while the costs of crime are escalating.
  • A second objection concerns privacy rights -- but since DNA databases were first created 14 years ago, no instances have been confirmed of their being misused.

Even the national America Civil Liberties Union last year abandoned its fight against expanding DNA sampling to all felons, admitting that it had lost privacy arguments in the courts.

Source: Editorial, "Testing All Felons Is Money Well Spent," USA Today, August 1, 2002.

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