June 6, 2012 -
A new policy is set to take effect which will allow the Department of Homeland Security to collect DNA from anyone, including children 14 years old and above. And no court warrant is needed to do that. What’s more, there are even talks to lower the age.
As early as March 2011, the Department of Homeland Security has started collecting biometrics from kids. All it takes to get DNA samples are when kids are held on administrative detention or arrested even without criminal activity.
Kids’ DNA collection is not alien to U.S. law enforcement. In fact, this has been a long-standing policy, to get DNA samples from juvenile offenders and set up DNA profiles and databases. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has a combined DNA index system database with entries of over 10.5 million and which will increase by over 1 million new records every year. All law enforcement agencies can access the DNA database. The U.S. Marshals and Drug Enforcement Administration have been collecting DNA from juvenile offenders as well. Now, DNA collecting has expanded to include visitors who had overstayed visas or those involved in computer hacking.
DNA has proven itself to be a potent tool in curbing criminal conduct. It reveals so much information about a person that it is easier for law enforcement to identify and run after criminals as well as preventing subsequent criminal conduct.
Back in 2008, the Department of Justice had issued a policy on DNA collecting from all people arrested, even non-U.S. persons detained and fingerprinted. So, each state agency gets DNA samples from anyone arrested and non-U.S. persons detained.
The statistics from the Council for Responsible Genetics, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, show that 44 states collect DNA from anyone convicted of a felony, 39 states collect DNA from those convicted of certain misdemeanors, 28 collect DNA from juvenile offenders, six states collect DNA of all individuals arrested and some states, such as California, have started to retain DNA from individuals identified as “suspects.”
The Department of Homeland Security has now joined the ranks of law enforcement set to collect DNA samples. It is not quite clear, however, if in fact, it has already started its DNA collecting.
Is it justified for law enforcement to take DNA samples from children, or those not convicted of a crime?