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Collecting DNA from Juveniles

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2011
84 pages
This study examined the laws, policies, and practices involved in States' collection of juvenile DNA, along with implications for juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Although 30 States currently have laws that authorize the collection of DNA from juveniles - mostly those adjudicated delinquent - little is known about the implementation of these laws or how existing procedures have been applied to juveniles. Consequently, policymakers and practitioners lack guidance on how well these laws are working in practice or how to improve current laws and practices. This study found the following: legal frameworks for the collection of DNA from juveniles vary by State; juvenile DNA expungement was rare; juvenile records expungement does not trigger DNA profile expungement; coordination challenges exist between labs and juvenile justice agencies; laws and implementation policies may be ambiguous; ensuring collection from all eligible offenders can be difficult; and the number and characteristics of juvenile profiles in CODIS cannot be quantified. Eight policy implications and recommendations are offered for State and Federal policymakers as well as State CODIS laboratory staff. First, consider (or reconsider) whether juveniles should be treated differently from adults regarding the scope of DNA collection, particularly for juvenile arrestees. Second, examine whether expungement policies are working as intended and consider ways to disseminate information about expungement standards and procedures. Third, align standards for expunging DNA profiles with standards for expunging juvenile records. Fourth, draft laws and policies that clearly indicate agency roles, responsibilities, and relationships regarding compliance, collection, quality control, and expungement. Fifth, address how DNA collection laws interact with existing juvenile justice laws and practices. Sixth, recognize that without additional resources, labs cannot expand the scope of qualified offenders and address their backlogs. Seventh, monitor changes in the collection and use of DNA that could have implications for juveniles. Eighth, encourage labs to compile and publicize basic aggregate descriptive data associated with CODIS profiles, which could improve oversight of the laws and facilitate future research. A 42-item annotated bibliography

Date Published: April 1, 2011