RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — During every arrest for a violent crime a suspect can expect to be handcuffed, fingerprinted, and given a mug shot. But already in more than half the states nationwide, those charged with a such crimes are also handing over their DNA. That includes the state of Virginia.
“We’ve had a real impact of people that are committing crimes and then committed other violent felonies,” said Sen. Ryan McDougle (R) Hanover.
Back in 2002 then Delegate McDougle carried the bill at the Virginia capital that would allow the Commonwealth to collect DNA samples from those charged with violent crimes. It passed with one stipulation.
“We have to destroy the sample if you’re found non-guilty,” said McDougle.
In a close decision Monday the US Supreme Court upheld laws like the one here in the Commonwealth making the argument that the non- intrusive cheek swab is no different than a fingerprint, and could help identify patterns of crime and add to a growing database. But civil liberties advocates ask at what cost to our constitutional rights.
“Those are people who are innocent, they haven’t been proven guilty they haven’t been proven that they committed any crime at all,” said Claire Gastanaga of the ACLU.
ACLU leaders say DNA provides much more information than a single print, it’s a genetic history that can be used any number of ways.
“The reality is we’re moving in the direction of having a national database of our genetic information out there and that should scare people,” said Gastanaga.