12/31/2008

I can't see where this is legal......

The Governor of the Great State of Michigan signed into law something that I can't see will pass muster in the grand scheme of all things judicial...

I first heard about it yesterday morning on NPR (one of the few channels that doesn't play Bob and Tom in the morning around here - and as such - my typical commute channel). When I heard the news story, I thought - did I just hear that right? I decided to check out the info later and stored it in the "hmmmm" file in my mind.

I checked it out this morning and realized I did indeed hear it right. Here is the basic idea of the law:

Anyone arrested for a violent felony in the State of Michigan is required to submit to DNA sampling.

Note that I said anyone arrested. Not anyone convicted. That was already law.

Now let me first say - hey - this law will never apply to me (unless the Cadet doesn't clean up his room soon and I haul him across state lines to murderize him - but many judges who are moms might view that as justifiable and non-violent homicide!) - but that isn't the point.

I object to this on so very many levels.

  • What about "innocent until proven guilty"? Arrest does not equal guilt.
  • What about reasonable expectation of privacy - especially related to my DNA. My personal DNA isn't just "Freely available" - it has to be taken from me (or found on a straw, cig butt, etc...but that has already made it through the court system and found to be legal).
  • What about double jeopardy. Being forced to submit to DNA sampling based on being arrested is the first "punishment" for the crime - wouldn't that render any punishment that the judicial process imposes "double jeopardy" for those found guilty in the crime? (kind of like Ohio's previous attempt in DUI law - where if you blew a breathlyzer score that indicated you were over the legal limit, your car would be impounded and crushed...which was imposition of a punishment prior to conviction - hence making conviction double jeopardy).
  • The ACLU (whom I truly dislike with a passion-but that is another post for another day) does have a good point on this one asking "why don't they just force DNA testing at birth - then database issues solved". After all, if Michigan is solely looking at DNA testing for crime solving purposes, just test every child born in the US, and then the FBI's database would be complete...Oh wait - the hue and cry on that one about individual liberties would be HUGE.
Again, I can't see how this is legal....and am thoroughly sure that challenges will very quickly make it into the system....

Am I reading this wrong??

1 comment:

Carol P. said...

As luck would have it, I was reading about DNA testing earlier in December in The Economist. The article/leader was about testing in Britain, but it did have a brief aside about US. Lemme ask google.... Ahhhhhhh, here we are:

Throw it out

Not exactly what you're looking for, and it doesn't say that it's been cleared up to the Supreme Court, but apparently it's done in California. Of course, it's like the seizure laws that allow confiscation of property at arrest if it's been used in various crimes (drugs in particular -- the state police were really unhappy when we in OR took away their ability to confiscate and sell vehicles based on arrest rather than conviction, and I recall the same issue arising when we lived in CA.

I tend toward small-government libertarianism (small L, not the Libertarian party...), so this is offensive on many different levels. But it's "what the people want" and goes along well with legislating morality (if you were arrested, you must've been doing something wrong), so it flies. Unless the Supreme Court returns to basic fundamental principals, that is....