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Racism in DNA Profiling

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Science and Technology, Politics, DNA, criminal justice, GeneWatch,

Prison FenceAs of January 1 of 2009, the state of California has the right to take a DNA sample from everyone arrested in the state, analyze it, and stick the profile in a criminal database. This applies whether or not the person is ever convicted or even charged with a crime. According to Michael Risher in GeneWatch, the new law allows “a single law enforcement officer the power to place people under lifetime genetic surveillance. “

The new law could also magnify racial disparities in the criminal justice system. “Given the ubiquity of racial profiling” in this country, Risher writes, “people of color will largely populate the databanks.” This places people of color under increased scrutiny from the law for the rest of their lives. He writes, “a racially skewed databank will produce racially skewed results.”

Source: GeneWatch 

wordpower
9/14/2009 12:25:31 PM

It is not true that "California has the right to take a DNA sample from everyone arrested in the state." Only adults arrested for a felony offense are subject to DNA collection. DNA can be collected from juveniles only if they are convicted/adjudicated of a felony offense, or, of a misdemeanor offense IF they have a prior felony conviction. But these small qualifications are hardly any comfort, given the much larger problems with this new set of laws. As confirmed by the leading US authority on DNA laboratory error, Prof. William Thompson at the University of California, Irvine, DNA testing is not infallible and errors occur with startling regularity. There is minimal training required for those authorized to collect samples, and no licensing requirements whatsoever (meaning contaminated samples are inevitable). This lack of oversight, combined with the exponentially swelling databases which will overwhelm the ability of investigators, seems a recipe for disaster. It cannot be said that the innocent have nothing to fear.