Federal appeals court upheld DNA database for nonviolent felons

On November 29, 2007, a divided panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that all convicted federal felons must provide DNA samples to a federal database available to police departments throughout the country. Judge Margaret McKeown, writing for the majority, upheld [PDF] a 2004 amendment to the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act, which required any felon in custody, or on probation, parole, or supervised release to submit DNA samples to the FBI's Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS). The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit had previously upheld the Act in 2005, ruling that a convicted bank robber had to submit DNA samples to the CODIS database. Further expansion of CODIS continued in 2008, when the US government began collecting DNA samples from every person arrested under federal laws. About 1.2 million additional people could be added to CODIS every year under the expansion, although people who are not convicted can request the destruction of their DNA samples.

Learn more about DNA testing from the JURIST news archive and read comparisons of DNA collection in the US and the UK by Guest Columnist Gil Auslander in Dateline.

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