A demonstration by Cassie Carradine, of the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab, shows how forensic procedures take DNA samples in unsolved crimes and compare them against a national database to look for matches.
Lawmakers are currently proposing new legislation that would potentially double the number of offenders in Texas whose genetic codes would be stored and catalogued. There are currently several bills under consideration in this Texas Legislature that would mean a major increase in their role in the nationwide programme.
The Combined DNA Index System is an FBI database of DNA profiles from convicted offenders and unsolved crimes from across the country, and so far Texas Department of Public Safety submits DNA from about 70,000 convicted felons to the database each year.
Over the last ten years, Texas police departments have been regular contributors to the database with new laws allowing them to collect DNA from nearly all imprisoned felons.
The arrival of two new bills to the House of Representatives, however, has civil rights groups worried. As Texas and other states submit more and more prisoners DNA to the database, there is growing concern over “potential abuse” by the authorities.As Texas and other states submit DNA from more and more of their prisoners to the database, civil rights groups are growing increasingly concerned. DNA profiling is now a common practice and samples are simply collected by means of oral swabs rubbed inside the mouth. Additional information about DNA testing and forensics can be found on this website.
According to Jim Harrington, the director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, the expansions to the database could create a “grave potential for abuse.” Speaking of the database he went on to say,” I think that goes too far, by the time you get to a misdemeanor, or a minor offense, it’s lost its legitimacy. ”
Police have argued back highlighting the hundreds of cases in which the DNA Database has led to an arrest and conviction. The argument continues.