Supreme Court Ruling on Collecting DNA on Arrestees Could Change Kentucky Law

Jun 3, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed a major victory to law enforcement. 

On a five to four vote, justices ruled Monday that collecting DNA samples of arrestees prior to proving their guilt or innocence, does not violates the Constitution.  In the high court’s ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that DNA cheek swabs are “a legitimate police booking procedure” like fingerprinting or photographing. 

More than two dozen states already take DNA samples from people arrested on felony charges.  In Kentucky, State Representative Mary Lou Marzian, Democrat from Louisville, sponsored a bill in this past session that would have allowed DNA collecting on felony arrestees without getting a court’s permission. 

The bill stalled after clearing the House Judiciary Committee.  Some state lawmakers expressed concern about collecting DNA on people only accused of a crime.  Other lawmakers feared DNA collection would be too costly for the state. 

Rep. Marzian could not be reached by phone Monday and it's unclear if she will bring up the legislation in the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more states are moving toward expanding DNA collection, citing studies that show there is a 40 percent chance that nonviolent crimes are being committed by someone who already has committed a violent crime.  The more expansive a state’s DNA policy, the more likely it is that a new specimen will match or “hit” a DNA sample that already is in the database.