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DNA Collection From Arrestees Challenged


Associated Press

(Sept. 18, 2012) —An Alabama man was charged this month with the 1980 murder of an Oxnard teen. A Placerville man was arrested last month for a 1986 rape and murder of a San Mateo teen. A San Francisco man is currently on trial for the murder and robbery of a tourist two decades ago.

Technological advances in genetic research and computers in recent years have turned solving "cold cases" into near-routine police work. The California Attorney General reports that the state's DNA database of close to 2 million samples spits outs more than 425 "hits" a month, more than double the average monthly rate of 183 in 2008. More than 10,000 suspects have been identified in the last five years.

But on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union will argue before a federal appellate court in San Francisco that California's DNA collection efforts have become unconstitutionally aggressive and that the spike in hits comes at the expense of civil liberties.

The ACLU is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down California's Proposition 69, which authorized police to obtain a genetic sample from every person arrested on felony charges, not just those convicted. Some 25 other states have enacted similar laws since 62 percent of the California electorate passed the measure in 2004.