During a January 2, 2009, radio interview with Kobi Nnamdi of WAMU, Maryland Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler, discussed his support for a recently ratified law that states that people charged with a violent crime in Maryland, or who attempt to commit one, must submit a DNA sample to the state’s DNA database.
My primary concern with regard to this law is that even a person who is charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. In my opinion, DNA should only be allowed to be databased after a person has been convicted of a violent crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Additionally, Attorney Gensler stated that the collection of DNA is no different from the decades old practice of taking a baby’s footprint or a person’s fingerprint. I strongly disagree.
Though DNA evidence collected from an earlier crime scene may help to vindicate an innocent person who has been wrongly convicted of a crime. And though DNA evidence gathered from a convicted criminal may help to solve other crimes committed by this person. The process of DNA collection proposed by the new law in Maryland, especially by an underqualified officer of the law, is by default, subject to any number of human errors. And knowing the weight that DNA carries in a court of law, a savvy criminal could easily plant a person’s DNA – be it hair, nail, skin, blood, or semen – onto a victim or at the scene of a violent crime. By contrast, it would take great lengths to do so with a fingerprint.
What do you think?