DNA database creates genetic surveillance
An Op-Ed on Gazette.net by Gerald G. Stansbury of the Maryland State NAACP; June White Dillard of the Prince Georgeâ€™s Branch NAACP; and Cynthia Boersma of the ACLU of Maryland addresses proposed legislation in Maryland:
Warrantless seizure of DNA from individuals who are arrested but not convicted of crimes is being considered in the Maryland General Assembly. This collection is not for the purpose of establishing the identity of the arrestee. It is also not for the purpose of linking the arrestee to the crime for which he or she has been arrested. It is in order to stockpile DNA in state and federal DNA warehouses, called â€˜â€˜databanks.â€
These databanks are a sophisticated and secretive way to â€˜â€˜round up the usual suspectsâ€ in the expectation that if they are not guilty of the crime for which they have been arrested, they are guilty of something.
Our Fourth Amendment promises a society free from fear of government surveillance and intrusion. It does not tolerate rounding people up and holding them in cells until we can prove they are guilty of a crime. DNA databanks simply sweep this kind of dragnet off the streets.
Another disturbing reality lurks behind the same mask: African Americans are disproportionately represented in our DNA databanks, and this imbalance will be exacerbated by further expanding the databanks to arrestees.
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