CRG Files Landmark Brief with Supreme Court Challenging Collection of DNA upon Arrest

by jeeg 4. February 2013 21:34

The Council for Responsible Genetics has filed a landmark brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of State of Maryland v. Alonzo Jay King, Jr. challenging, on racial justice grounds, the growing trend in which government collects DNA samples not just from those convicted of crimes, but from those who are merely arrested. 


Because only a fraction of those who are arrested are ultimately charged and convicted, this practice necessarily permits the government to collect DNA from innocent people.  That the government would obtain DNA from any innocent person is disturbing, but the practice visits a special and severe harm upon minorities. Members of minority groups are arrested in disproportionate numbers, and a disproportionate percentage of innocent arrestees are therefore likely to be minorities.


CRG’s brief is the only brief presented in this case that exclusively and comprehensively seeks to bring to the Court’s attention the wealth of empirical and social science evidence documenting the harms to minorities from this practice. In particular, innocent minority arrestees (and increasingly their blood relatives) are especially likely to experience stigmatization and unwarranted law enforcement surveillance from being included in a DNA database. That heightened scrutiny by law enforcement not only will contribute to the further alienation of minorities in American society, but may also lead to false positive DNA matches, which in turn will subject innocent minorities to a greater risk of false incriminations and convictions.


The brief can be accessed at the following url:


Since 1983, the Council for Responsible Genetics has represented the public interest and fostered public debate about the social, ethical and environmental implications of genetic technologies.  CRG is a leader in the movement to steer biotechnology toward the advancement of public health, environmental protection, equal justice, and respect for human rights.   








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