Possibly Guilty Until Proven/Tested Innocent

Colorado Senate bill 09-241 would permit the use of force by the government to take DNA samples from persons not found guilty of any crime.

Democrat Senator Morgan Carroll of Aurora was the only “no” vote March 11th when the bill made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-1 vote.

She recently had the following to say on the Square State blog.

Square State

Colorado’s current law already requires the taking of DNA samples from all CONVICTED felons, whether violent or not, and allows storage, search and use of that DNA in perpetuity. Current law allows investigators to collect, use and store any or all DNA found at any crime scene, which IS appropriate to help identify perpetrators and solve crimes.
However, SB 09-241 expands that to include all persons arrested on a felony (accused but not convicted) and the ability to take it by "reasonable force" if necessary. Prior to conviction, these are people presumed innocent. This law would sweep in nearly 25,000 innocent people every year into a permanent government controlled DNA data-base, with very little legal protections about its future use. It creates a process where the burden falls on the innocent person, if they wish to extract or expunge their DNA from the government database. In fairness for full disclosure I was the only "no" vote in committee and it passed with bi-partisan support.

I don’t know about you, but I find it very disturbing that the government is taking the approach of guilty until proven/tested innocent. I find it very disturbing that the government would be collecting the DNA of persons not convicted of any crime. As well I have no faith that the government would destroy the samples taken from person found to be innocent of any crime.

The possibility of a person being guilty of another crime, past or future is the reasoning for the collection of DNA from a person who as of yet has not been found guilty of the crime for which they were arrested.

According to Carroll, 25,000 innocent persons per year would then have their DNA placed into this database. The key word being, “innocent”.

Colorado is not the only state to be pursing such a law and it is in fact law in 16 states right now. This is known as Katie’s Law it is a very invasive piece of law and based upon emotion rather than Constitutional rights of American citizens.

Katie Sepich was a vivacious 22-year-old graduate student at New Mexico State University. In August 2003, she was brutally attacked just outside her home. She was raped, strangled, her body set on fire, and abandoned at an old dump site.

No strong suspects emerged in Katie’s case, but skin and blood were found under her fingernails, leaving the attacker’s DNA sample. Katie had fought hard for her life. This DNA profile was sent to the national DNA database system (called CODIS), where officials hoped a match would be made. When Katie’s mother learned of the DNA evidence and database she replied, "They are arresting people every day, so soon we’ll know who killed Katie." But the Sepiches later learned that most state laws do not allow law enforcement to take DNA for felony arrests. This was the beginning of the quest for "Katie’s Law".

I am very sorry for Katie and her family, her death however should not result in the loss of another persons rights.

Some Colorado law enforcement agencies are in support of this bill.

 

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