Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DNA Sampling of Arrestees

Lauren Zakalik-WILX News Lansing, Michigan

Obtaining DNA samples in the state of Michigan is no legal piece of cake.

According to attorney Bill Fleener, a person either has to be found guilty of a crime or have a DNA test subpoenaed.

But State Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi wants to make it so that any person arrested and charged for certain felonies will have their DNA automatically taken.

"This would allow police to at least have another weapon in their hands to find the killers of these young women," Vagnozzi says.

These young women he speaks of are rape or murder victims whose cases have gone unsolved. Vagnozzi says by taking DNA samples of arrestees and running their DNA through the unsolved crime database, more cases could be closed.

Fleener calls it "worrisome." He says the bill violates some major privacy issues and leaves much room for abusing the system.

"You can't just drag anyone you want off the streets and say 'Give me your DNA' and 'Let's compare it and see if you committed other crimes.'"

Fleener also worries about what happens if a person's DNA is taken, but they're found not guilty of the original crime they were arrested for.

Vagnozzi says that's something he's considering.

"I think we'll move that if the person is found not guilty, their DNA files are destroyed."

Fleener, who has worked extensively with the "Innocence Project," says once DNA is in a database, it's unlikely it will get erased.

The question now: what do people value more? Their privacy or their protection?

News10 asked Vagnozzi which types of felonies would fall under this category, and he wasn't sure. There's a 9 a.m. hearing Wednesday at the Capitol on this subject.

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