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Collecting DNA at Arrest: Policies, Practices, and Implications, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2013
9 pages
This is the executive summary of a study that assessed the effects and implications of expanding DNA collection to include arrestees, with attention to 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 found that arrestee DNA laws vary considerably by State. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision about the constitutionality of Maryland's arrestee DNA law (anticipated in June 2013) will determine whether attention can move from the threshold question of the practice's constitutionality to the broader questions pertinent to whether such laws could be implemented more effectively and at less cost. Most DNA laws that include provisions for expungement of arrestee DNA in the event of acquittal or dismissal place the responsibility of expungement on arrestee initiative. The study's analysis of State-provided data indicates that arrestee DNA laws 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 researchers advise that States that do not currently have arrestee DNA laws may wish to consider the potential benefits of expanded collection in terms of a real but limited number of additional hits, given the cost of collecting and analyzing arrestee DNA. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upholds such laws, questions will remain about their cost-effectiveness. Data sources and data collection are described. 1 table

Date Published: June 1, 2013