North Carolina's New Expansive DNA Bank is Unwise

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The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed legislation that would expand the scope of North Carolina's DNA bank. The legislation, passed earlier this month, would permit police to collect DNA samples from people arrested on accusation of having committed certain crimes. Until now, DNA in North Carolina was collected following the conviction for certain crimes, but not merely as a consequence of conviction. Raleigh criminal lawyer Damon Chetson warns that the expansion of North Carolina's DNA bank is inimical to the civil liberties of North Carolinians.

The Chetson Firm - Raleigh Criminal Lawyer and Criminal Attorney

This country was founded on the principle that an all-powerful government was something to be feared, particularly a government that could collect at will the deepest secrets of its citizens lives.

In a law passed earlier this month, but set to be effective as of February 1, 2011, North Carolina police agencies will be able to collect DNA samples from people who have merely been arrested on allegations of having committed certain crimes.

Supporters claim that the law will help expand the state's ability to resolve unsolved crimes. But, as the Winston-Salem Journal has reported, critics and experts point out that there have been no national studies conducted of the 23 other states that have such laws that indicate that such laws are effective at all.

And because the standard for arrest is so low, many peoples' DNA could be swept up. Supporters point out that the law provides that if the person is found not guilty, the DNA collected would be destroyed.

But, as Raleigh criminal lawyer Damon Chetson points out, "A criminal system is a human system, subject to imperfections. We know for a fact that innocent people are convicted of crimes. We also know that, on occasion, records, including records that supposedly are expunged, are not deleted."

"I worry that DNA of people who are innocent is kept permanently on file," Raleigh criminal attorney Chetson added. "And we all know that DNA itself is not a full proof method of identifying a suspect, since DNA itself can become contaminated with other samples."

Other critics have pointed out that the DNA database could be especially unfair to minorities, who may be arrested at higher rates.

"This country was founded on the principle that an all-powerful government was something to be feared, particularly a government that could collect at will the deepest secrets of its citizens lives," Raleigh defense attorney Chetson said. "I shudder to think what the Founders would say about this new law in North Carolina."

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