The state of Colorado is seeking to enact a new preventive DNA law that would require anyone arrested on felony charges to submit a DNA sample to the state, rather than waiting for the suspect to be convicted. Colorado would join a list of approximately a dozen other states that collect DNA samples prior to a conviction. In addition to this proposed law, federal government has legalized the collection of DNA samples at the time of a federal arrest.
A few states have tried to expand the scope of collecting DNA by including misdemeanor arrests for crimes such as burglary and disorderly conduct, but only Maryland and South Dakota have been successful in enacting those new laws.
The state of Colorado has been collecting DNA from sex offenders for more than two decades and in 2007 expanded DNA collection to include all convicted felons. So far, Colorado has entered more than 88,000 offender DNA profiles into the CODIS DNA database. Under the proposed law, DNA profiles would be entered into the CODIS database immediately after the suspect’s arrest. If the arrestee is not convicted of the alleged crime, then he or she could petition the courts to have their profile removed from CODIS.
With this new proposal comes the debate of violating people’s rights and invading their privacy. Some law enforcement officials feel that waiting for a conviction is too late to start utilizing a suspect’s DNA for comparison with evidence from other crimes. On the other hand, some organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, believe that this new law would eliminate the right of a person to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Both sides will have their chance to debate the facts when Denver District Attorney Mich Morrissey proposes the new legislation in the next session of the General Assembly.