DNA: Modern Day Fingerprints?

Since we take the fingerprints of people when they are arrested, isn’t taking DNA samples at the time of arrest just a scientific advancement update?

This viewpoint was discussed during an Iowa House of Representatives subcommittee meeting on HSB67: “An Act requiring an arrested person to submit a DNA sample if the arrest is for a felony and providing for the reimbursement of costs.”

Although it is an interesting, yet curious viewpoint, the answer is no.  Fingerprints and DNA are very different.  DNA can be inadvertently transferred from one location to another; fingerprints cannot. DNA has a genetic link.  Fingerprints do not.  In the United States of America, do we seriously want to create a DNA bank where law enforcement agencies have the ability to profile families?  Adolf Hitler and his cohorts would be foaming at the mouth at the prospect of using this wonderful tool for genetic linking.  George Santayana warned, “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it”.  There should be a campaign to recruit history teachers to run for public office.

Attorneys and law enforcement legislators have willingly given their fingerprints as a requirement of their profession, and some feel that it is reasonable to expect the same from everyone else.  These same legislators would probably be willing to give up their privacy and submit DNA samples.  But, you currently have the right to choose your profession in the United States.  If you don’t want to give up your privacy, you don’t have to enter into a profession that requires fingerprinting.

Law enforcement already struggles with members committing acts of racial profiling and arresting people due to guilt by association—since you hang with criminals you must be a criminal.  Creating a law that allows the harvesting of DNA based solely on arrest and not a conviction would be a deadly blow to a country that is constantly struggling to uphold dwindling liberties that are systematically being taken apart.  The presumption of innocence is key to a strong justice system.  Harvesting DNA samples creates a system of proving innocence, instead of the burden of proving guilt.

The United States of America used to believe that:

“The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation      of the administration of our criminal law.”

Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432, 453 (1895).  Cited by Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall in his dissent in UNITED STATES v. SALERNO, 481 U.S. 739 (1987).

©  Copyright 2011 Fawkes-Lee & Ryan.  All rights reserved.

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One Response to DNA: Modern Day Fingerprints?

  1. David says:

    Voluntary DNA is a good way to prove innocence.

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