Monday, June 03, 2013

Top 5 Reasons Pennsylvania May Not be the next DNA collection State

Today's Supreme Court decision that upheld Maryland's preconviction DNA collection law was pretty much atrocious, as pointed out earlier by my colleague Ngani. But there's no guarantee that Pennsylvania will be next. Here's why, from the home office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

5. Last year the state Senate passed a preconviction DNA bill. It was rejected by the state House. In October, the House passed an amendment by a freshman Democrat, Representative Brandon Neuman of Washington County, that gutted the bill, including the DNA collection provision with 132 votes in favor of the amendment. This bipartisan coalition included the Speaker of the House.

4. The public safety arguments fall flat. In 2011, Maryland collected 11,000 DNA samples from people charged but not yet convicted of a crime under its law. That led to nine additional convictions for unsolved crimes. Not 90. Not 900. Not 9,999. But nine. Plus, under the commonwealth's current, postconviction DNA law, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) has a backlog of eight months to test DNA samples, a backlog that will only balloon if the legislature passes a preconviction collection bill. No one can argue with a straight face that preconviction DNA collection protects public safety.

3. It's expensive. PSP has estimated that preconviction DNA collection would cost $13 million.

2. The right to privacy under the state constitution is robust. Pennsylvania courts have consistently ruled that Article I, Section VIII of the state constitution provides greater privacy protections in search-and-seizures than the Fourth Amendment of the federal constitution.

1. The ACLU of Pennsylvania is on it. And we're awesome.

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