Cindy Horswell reports:
As a growing number of states move to strengthen their DNA databanks, many investigators and crime victims in Texas say dangerous criminals may escape justice here because the state fails to require DNA sampling of most arrestees.
Texas allows DNA samples taken from arrestees only if they are charged with a sexual offense or burglary — and then only after a grand jury indicts them. If those arrestees haven’t been indicted, DNA is taken only if they have a past conviction for a similar offense.
Read more in the Houston Chronicle. It seems that voters have turned down expanding the DNA collection – but for reasons of cost, not civil liberties:
Texas state Rep. Allen Vaught, D-Dallas, spearheaded expanding DNA sampling this year to adults and juveniles given probation or deferred adjudication for felony convictions. The state’s database already includes all sex offenders and felons sent to prison or the Texas Youth Commission.
Asked why more arrestees are not sampled, Vaught said: “I wanted to do it, but we couldn’t get the votes. It came down to cost.”
These databases continue to concern me, even though there are supposedly provisions for expunging the DNA samples in some cases. Apart from the criminal/civil liberties aspect, what really stops these databases from being used for additional purposes down the road because the data are there and convenient to researchers?