Judge: Keep Collecting Suspected Felons' DNA

Civil libertarians sued to stop practice of taking samples from suspects

By Jackson West
|  Sunday, Dec 27, 2009  |  Updated 9:01 AM PDT
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While you're innocent until proven guilty, that won't stop law enforcement from collecting the DNA of suspected felons and keeping it on file indefinitely.

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Anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony in California may have their DNA tested, regardless as to whether or not it might help law enforcement officials investigating the crime.

That's thanks to Proposition 69, of which voters approved in 2004.

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law in court, arguing that it represents an unconstitutional invasion of privacy protected by prohibition against "unreasonable search and seizure" in the Bill of Rights.

The law took effect last January, but the ACLU's request for an enforcement injunction was denied by a federal judge yesterday, who felt that the ACLU was unlikely to win the case -- and likened DNA tests to fingerprints and photographs used to identify suspects in criminal cases.

But even if found not guilty, the DNA identification records stays on the books for at least three years, after which prosecutors or judges can deny requests by those tested to remove the record from the database.

Until now, DNA samples could only be taken from those suspected of violent or sex-related felonies.

Laws bar the records from ever being used by anyone besides law enforcement officials.

Jackson West would be more freaked out if he wasn't already mostly numb to being constantly surveilled.

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