Following Up: DNA Fingerprinting

Friday, January 18, 2008

Eugene O'Donnell, professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, talks about Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to take a DNA sample from everyone who is arrested.


Eugene O'Donnell

Comments [30]

Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

I think the thing some people are forgetting is that it's possible to store data that allows someone's DNA record to be compared against an unidentified sample collected at a crime scene (or in the wreckage of a disaster) without having to keep the person's entire DNA information on file... thus this analyzing for this particular gene or that possible disease wouldn't happen.

Jan. 18 2008 10:56 AM
hjs from 11211

i hope brian does a full segement on this topic soon.

Jan. 18 2008 10:53 AM
Tom from Brooklyn

I support DNA samples for all arrests, but explain this to me. -How does the argument that it could free innocently convicted people possibly hold up?

If you have DNA evidence from a crime scene, and you have someone in jail, then you have all the information you need to determine their innocence.

Further evidence from a third party could only be helpful in keeping the falsely accused person's bunk warm once they're released from prison.

Get real Elliot Spitzer and Michael Bloomberg -just call a spade a spade -this is a prosecutorial tool for unsolved crimes, not an "innocence" project. -The logic just doesn't hold.

Jan. 18 2008 10:52 AM
Matthew from Brooklyn

This is so Totaletarian it's scary

What right does the government have to my most deeply private information

Doesn't the government serve at our pleasure

Is there any more of an invasion of privacy even concievable

I'd rather have my house ransacked after I jay Walked than what's suggested for jaywalking

This is so scary

I would probably leave the country if this went through

at this point you no longer own yourself

The government is supposed to work for us, no

So scary

And with zero percent crime people are willing to do this

What's happened to this country that people aren't asking for instant impeachment being that we clearly have bizarrely control hungry mad men in office


rather die than give people that

Jan. 18 2008 10:47 AM
hjs from 11211

this is a very bad idea.

by the way the nypd is so tech unsavvy today it would be very difficult for them to pull something like this off in the near future.

Jan. 18 2008 10:45 AM
James from New York

It doesn't seem a great civil liberties threat to establish a DNA database of those CONVICTED of a felony. Why is that so difficult? Why do we have to dispense with the benefit of innocent until proven guilty to help law enforcement protect us from the bad guys. And why must we fear law enforcement so much that we are hesitant to give them a useful tool by taking the DNA of anyone convicted of a serious (felony) crime. I'm in the middle, I fear the bad guys enough to want to help law enforcement with this information but I am mindfu l enough of the potential for abuse to restrict it to ONLY those CONVICTED by our criminal justice system. I don't mind that it will be part of the punishment one suffers by committing a crime that one will thereby wind up in such a database.

Jan. 18 2008 10:43 AM
Jack Daws

In what cases has the NYPD shown the exemplary self-restraint before expanded powers that would be necessary to justify trusting them with more? Between the sprawling RNC investigation and the string of accidental shootings, it's clear that the NYPD doesn't need more and expanded powers, but should be looked at with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Jan. 18 2008 10:42 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

Lets all remember here, fingerprinting is completely different than taking DNA - Fingerprinting simply identifies you. This is all law enforcement is really after, right? an identification? DNA is so much more. What happens when DNA starts being compiled and genes are analyzed and we start looking at trends for criminals? And when we start rounding up everybody with the burgalar gene when a bank gets robbed?

c'mon. There is an obvious reason that they want everybody's DNA, and it's not 100% what they say.

Jan. 18 2008 10:41 AM

Solution similar to the illegal immigrant drivers' license one:

It's an attempt to create a grey area in a realm that is traditionally and legally black and white.

The only way to get it to go forward is to find a back door (the drivers' license' back door was easy, though never used: road safety.).

Personally I believe creating grey areas where none exist is risky and the real definition of "corrupt."

Jan. 18 2008 10:40 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

I'm against collecting DNA upon arrest because it'll lead to people being arrested just to collect DNA... so collect it at birth or upon entry of the country and that removes the possibility of foundless arrest for this reason.

Jan. 18 2008 10:40 AM
Miss or Ms

This is unbelievably stupid and invasion of privacy as well as a grave threat to our RIGHT to be innocent until proven guilty.

The wrong people are arrested all the time.

The police force DOES commit errors, witness the Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo's shooting.

Jan. 18 2008 10:39 AM
Ryan from Jersey City

Taking the DNA of persons CONVICTED for a crime sounds reasonable. However, anyone can be arrested and then released without being convicted of anything (such as is frequently done to peaceful demonstrators).

As far as the suggestion that this protects the law abiding- that is simply deranged. Constitutional protections do not exist to protect criminals- they exist to prevent the average citizen from being treated like a criminal.

By that logic, the government should force us all to drop our pants to prove we haven't soiled ourselves.

Jan. 18 2008 10:39 AM
Josh from Queens

Did this guy just say that a dialog on privacy issues is "apaulling"?

I would like to hear a discussion on the effectiveness of municipal crime labs. I recall a "60 minutes" report on the F.B.I.'s flawed bullet fragment analysis methodology.

Jan. 18 2008 10:39 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

If the police want to plant your particular DNA at a crime scene, they can do it very easily right now.

Jan. 18 2008 10:38 AM
Chad Harris from Ridgewood

Marshall McLuhan basically described in his work about how privacy would just disappear as we move back the the days of tribal man. Maybe we should just embrace it...

But then again can you imagine getting stopped at the Canadian border for being wrongly arrested at a protest?

How easy it is to replicate DNA samples and frame someone?

Jan. 18 2008 10:38 AM
Carla from Ridgewood

I think the idea of DNA fingerprinting at the time of arrest rather than at conviction is ridiculous. Half of the people I know have been arrested. I think it came out of the Giuliani administration to arrest people for minor offenses like open container, trespassing, jumping a turnstyle in the subway. I have heard that the idea is to arrest for these offenses in order to have the 'offender's' information in the system. But the people who are trespassing, doing graffiti, walking around with an open container of alcohol are not the same people committing the serious crimes that the police should really be focusing on. I would love to hear someone speak more about what data this decision to arrest for minor offenses was based on.

Jan. 18 2008 10:38 AM
Allan from Brooklyn

This whole debate is fundamentally about the level of trust we have in the government. Once information gets out, there is no getting it back. Do we trust every future administration to forever scrupulously guard personal data?


Jan. 18 2008 10:37 AM
Brian Duncan from Red Bank, NJ

Absolutely 100% against it. This is an anathema to Anglo-American jurisprudence. It is the product of a trend in American law enforcement of a presumption of guilt and generalized suspicion overall. It is unwarranted, intrusive, and wholly un-American. I can only imagine the attitudes of the founding fathers on swuch a proposal. At best I can characterize the intention of this as setting up the infrastructure for the ultimate police state. The road to perdition is paved with good intentions. They know not what they do.

Jan. 18 2008 10:37 AM
Emily West, PhD student in criminology from brooklyn

Another issue here is that there is still racial discrimination in who is stopped, questioned and arrested. This leads to an unfair number of minorities having their DNA on record than their white counterparts (who may have committed a crime but were never pursued).

It also may lead to less traditional police investigation - which is a necessary compliment to DNA information. It leads to a slippery slope...

Jan. 18 2008 10:36 AM
Rob Levine from NY, NY

DNA can be cloned. How long is it until this is easy to do and then your DNA can be planted at a crime? Of course, the police would never do anything unethical, right?

Jan. 18 2008 10:35 AM

What are the DNA testing laboratory error rates? Percent of false positives, percent of false negatives?

Jan. 18 2008 10:34 AM
nat from brooklyn

It is completely unacceptable for a Police Department that is known to engage in preemptive arrest for political protest, as during the RNC in 2004 to be collecting DNA for all arrests.

Not only are they stepping over a civil liberties line by preemptively arresting people not committing crimes, as has been proved by the countless wrongful arrest law suits found in favor of the protesters and released document, but databasing their DNA as a result of an unconstitutional arrest is just outrageous.

Jan. 18 2008 10:33 AM
Chris Pericone from NJ

This would greatly increase the rate at which crimes are solved, because many or most false leads would be eliminated, since suspects usually have past criminal history.

Jan. 18 2008 10:33 AM
CharlesTalavera from Central Islip - Long Island, N.Y.

I think it is a great idea getting DNA from people who are arrested!!!
If you have nothing to hide why should you have a problem with it.???

If this action allows the capture of someone who committed a crime against me or a family memember... Than that is what I call justice!!!!!!!!

Jan. 18 2008 10:33 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

Doesn't this sound a little un-american? The stuff of futureistic sci-fi movies that are meant to scare us? Can we really trust the government to destroy our DNA if we're proven innocent? What about all these people that are arrested in protests? As far as I'm concerned, they can take my DNA from my spilled blood on the sidewalk, because nobody but my doctor is going to stick a needle in me for any reason.

If they want to prove me innocent, they can take my DNA with my consent before trial.

Jan. 18 2008 10:33 AM
rick from brooklyn

this is total BS. are you kidding? why not just go door to door taking everyone's dna? this is the road to the police state. think of all the false arrests that were done during the 2004 Republican convention. and more often than not false arrests are done in the minority community....

the idea that one is 'under arrest' when being pulled over for a traffic ticket is also complete crap. if that were true than why isn't one given miranda warnings (etc. etc.)? why don't you have another guest to challenge this COP??

Jan. 18 2008 10:32 AM
Duncan from Red Bank, NJ

Absolutely 100% against it. DNA fingerprinting upon arrest gives the government the opportunity to DNA anybody anytime. It is an anathema to Anglo-American jurisprudence. It is part of a ugly and destructive trend in American law enforcement which presumes guilt and generalized suspicion. This is offensive and overly intrusive, uncalled for, and un-American. This sets up the infrastructure for the ultimate police state. In the best analysis .... They know not what they do.

Jan. 18 2008 10:32 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Take the DNA at birth. Keep no specimens, just the information.

Jan. 18 2008 10:32 AM
Rob Levine from NY, NY

Upon conviction of a felony - yes... but for arrest, definitely not... the police can arrest anyone even if they haven't done anything wrong.

I don't think the police should be able to collect dna or even fingerprints based on an arrest - only on a conviction.

Jan. 18 2008 10:32 AM
Bridget W. from West Village

Where can I volunteer my DNA? I am confident that I will not commit a crime and if by submitting my DNA I can secure my innocence in the case that I am falsely accused, or even link myself to long-lost family members through the information, I'd like to do so!

Jan. 18 2008 10:30 AM

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