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Collecting DNA at Arrest: Policies, Practices, and Implications, Final Technical Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2013
126 pages
In order to assess the effects and implications of expanding DNA collection to include arrestees, this study examined the provisions of existing arrestee DNA laws, how the courts have interpreted these laws, and how they have been implemented by State laboratories and collecting agencies; it also addressed how this practice has affected the growth of DNA databases, the number of "hits" to forensic profiles, and the frequency with which DNA aids investigations.
The study's analysis of State-provided data indicates that arrestee DNA law have contributed to additional DNA profiles in CODIS and additional hits; however, the study could not estimate the number of hits for which arrestee DNA laws were solely responsible. The study also determined that the implementation of arrestee laws has imposed significant administrative and analytical burdens on many State laboratories and collecting agencies. The ability to expunge arrestee data for arrestees acquitted or otherwise had their cases dismissed is cited as an important safeguard; however, expungements are rare when arrestees must initiate the process and are otherwise administratively problematic. The researchers advise that States that do not currently have arrestee DNA law may wish to consider the potential benefits of expanded collection in terms of a real but limited number of additional hits and subsequent cases resolved, given the administrative burdens and costs required in collecting from defendants before convictions, as well as the legal uncertainty surrounding the arrestee DNA laws themselves. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upholds such laws, questions will remain about their cost-effectiveness. The design of new laws should recognize the tradeoffs that may occur during implementation. Data sources and data collection are described. 23 figures, 9 tables, and appendixes with references, case summaries, legal matrix laboratory representative interview protocol, Interview coding scheme, sample data request, stakeholder interview protocols, and annual CODIS/NDIS data

Date Published: June 1, 2013