President Barack Obama’s embrace of a national database to store the DNA of people arrested but not necessarily convicted of a crime is heartening to backers of the policy but disappointing to criminal-justice reformers, who view it as an invasion of privacy.
Others also worry the practice would adversely affect minorities.
In an interview aired Saturday on “America’s Most Wanted,” Obama expressed strong agreement as host John Walsh extolled the virtues of collecting DNA at the time of an arrest and putting it into a single, national database.
“It’s a horrible idea — tremendously invasive,” said Bill Quigley of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who also disputed Walsh’s claim that DNA is no different from fingerprints.
“It’s like a hair sample, looking at your health care records and everything else,” Quigley said. “It’s like giving a blank check to the government — a blank check they can cash anytime they feel like it.”
In a provocative report two years ago, titled “Building Jim Crow’s Database,” Small and other critics charged that DNA-upon-arrest provisions disproportionately affect minorities because they are more likely to be arrested, even if not convicted.
“It’s racially incredibly skewed,” she said.