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Should Georgia collect DNA upon arrest?

When a person is placed under arrest for a serious offense, they can expect to be submitted to otherwise routine booking procedures like having their photograph and fingerprints taken.

Interestingly enough, however, in 31 states -- excluding Georgia -- these routine booking procedures also include taking a cheek swab for the purposes of analyzing the suspect's DNA and adding it to a database for future investigative purposes. 

While the idea of collecting DNA upon arrest may seem like a violation of the U.S. Constitution, namely the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Supreme Court of the United States held as recently as 2013 that this practice was indeed constitutional.

In Maryland v. King, the court ruled 5-4 that a law in Maryland authorizing the collection of DNA samples from those individuals arrested for "serious" crimes was constitutional. Specifically, it found that the DNA collection process upon arrest was reasonable and properly considered part of standard police booking procedure, no different from mug shots or fingerprints.

Here in Georgia, prosecutors have long been lobbying state lawmakers to pass a bill expanding the collection of DNA evidence such that samples wouldn't just be taken subsequent to conviction, but subsequent to arrests for burglaries, drug-related offenses and violent crimes.

Since 2011, however, any legislation calling for this expanded DNA collection has failed to gain the necessary traction in the General Assembly. In fact, such legislation will once again be on the table when the two chambers convene next month.

Experts indicate that this reluctance to pass a measure may be traced to everything from the belief that such a database is unnecessary to concerns that it would enable the state to keep critical information on those who may never actually be convicted of a crime.  

It will be interesting to see if this is the year that state lawmakers decide to add Georgia to the ranks of states that collect DNA upon arrest.

What are your thoughts on this controversial issue?

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