Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why do the Democrats Want My DNA

The U.S. Congress decided this past May to expand the FBI's DNA database. Strange ain't it, folks cannot get a budget passed, deal with the econonmy or stop the massive rate of foreclosures but the House can vote 357 to 32 to support legislation that “will pay state governments to require DNA samples” collected via blood, from anyone arrested for major crimes. The bill, called the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2010.

What was strange was that of all of the democrats in the house, not one voted in opposition of the bill, a bill that will dole out nearly $75 million for each state that agrees to make this practice mandatory. If states agree, the FBI's Convicted Offender DNA Index System (CODIS) database could grow massively, since annually it is estimated that state and local law enforcement entities arrest almost 14 million Americans, not including arrests for traffic violations.

The problem is that a number of Americans are arrested for crimes but never convicted. Th new legislation will mean that they risk having their DNA taken by force of law and added to a national data base, if the bill on the floor of the house is approved.

Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center has expressed concern of this expansion of DNA data collection and would like the United States to follow the model practiced in the Europe. The British government is in the process of reforming its National data base that began in the early 1990’s. Originally designed to store data only from convicted felons, it grew to contain data on millions of citizens, many of whom had only been arrested on suspicion and were never convicted of a crime.

The Bill was passed under what is called "suspension of the rules” which does not allow for an open and full debate on the subject. The Act referenced as H.R. 4614, would amend a section of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The concern is that DNA samples should be limited only to individuals who have been convicted of a crime, meaning there is probable cause and DNA could be collected via warrant. Inevitably, individuals may presumed guilty prior to being convicted of a crime.

Strangely, there has been no discussion of the pending legislation on major news outlets, and more surprisingly how this was in essence “rammed” through the House of Representatives. The powers granted to the government or law enforcement agencies that exceed the constitution already impacts African Americans the hardest. The question is will we speak out vehemently as we did protesting the war on drugs, or will we just accept all that the power brokers — even democrats do on capital hill?

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