N.J. Senate committee OKs bill allowing DNA collection in minor crime convictions

by jeeg 19. June 2014 23:05


Police would be able to collect DNA from people convicted of minor crimes, a move that would greatly expanding the number of those required to provide samples, if a bill approved Thursday becomes law.

Previously, DNA samples were taken from sex offenders and people who committed certain violent crimes such as manslaughter.

The bill approved Thursday would expand that to include people convicted of disorderly persons offenses such as prostitution, domestic violence or possession of some drugs. Most disorderly persons offenses that require a person to be fingerprinted now would also mandate that DNA be taken should the bill become law. The measure passed unanimously out of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. An amendment removed possession of marijuana and shoplifting from the list of offenses where DNA would be taken.

The measure is sponsored by Nicholas Sacco, D-North Bergen, who said he was trying to push for a new version of a bill that was conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie, a Republican, last session by removing some offenses from the bill’s scope. “I looked at the bill and tried to find anything that might be offensive,” said Sacco. The pool of people who are forced to provide DNA samples to police has grown over the last two decades. Originally convicted sex offenders were required to give their DNA samples over to a national database. Over the years, the law has been amended and expanded to include violent criminals and now if this bill passes it will include many non-violent offenders.

Alexander Shalom, a senior staff attorney at the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the expansion was a violation of privacy. “Do you want government to know whether your children are legitimate or illegitimate?” Shalom asked referring to DNA’s ability to reveal a host of biological and medical information about a person. “The pool of people from whom the government wants our DNA continues to expand and expand seemingly without limitation.” 




Comments are closed
Log in