A bill before the Arizona Senate would expand that state’s DNA database to include samples of everyone arrested (but not necessarily convicted) for a crime in the state. However, the state lab had a backlog of 80,000 samples from convicted felons as recently as 2004 and would have to spend millions of dollars to update its lab and hire additional staff to handle triple the current volume of samples. An Arizona Daily Star editorial on Thursday argues against the expansion:
…expanding the DNA database is problematic for several reasons.
First, there are concerns over the loss of civil liberties. Simply being arrested does not mean a person has committed a crime, and many people who are arrested are never charged. Yet those people's DNA would become part of the database.
A more practical concern with expanding the DNA database is that the state doesn't have the resources to test an additional 75,000 people a year — the estimate given by Senate staff that examined the possible impact of the legislation.
…Senate staff found that the bill would cost an additional $3.75 million per year for DNA tests, DPS would have to hire 15 new workers to handle the increased volume of samples, and the state would have to expand its testing facility at a cost of $8 million to $10 million.
Read the full article here
. (Arizona Daily Star, 02/08/07)
Several other states are currently considering bills expanding DNA database collection, while funding for crime labs remains woefully inadequate nationwide. Congress also quietly
passed an amendment
in January authorizing the federal government to collect samples from anyone arrested by federal authorities. The FBI lab, which would process these millions of samples, already has a backlog of 150,000 samples.
More informations on DNA database expansion and crime lab backlogs:
Read the Innocence Project’s position on DNA Privacy and DNA databases here.
Wisconsin, which is considering expanding its DNA database, has a severe backlog problem
Florida’s DNA labs are so backed up that crime labs will limit the number of items police can submit from each case