MD Senate Extends DNA Sample Collections Law - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

MD Senate Extends DNA Sample Collections Law

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Princess Anne Police Department Princess Anne Police Department

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - Maryland state legislators voted to extend the current DNA testing law indefinitely, but the U.S. Supreme Court could change all of that.

In the state of Maryland, before police throw a suspected felon into a holding cell, they take a DNA sample, sending it off to Maryland State Police lab in Pikesville, Md. to be put into a statewide database for convicted offenders.

Since 2009, when officials started taking samples from perpetrators of violent crimes and 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burglaries, there have been 228 DNA matches leading to other open cases, resulting in 77 arrests.  
     
"When you get DNA evidence from the scene of a crime, that database is ever expanding by taking these samples makes it a much better chance of getting a DNA hit," said Princess Anne Police Chief Scott Keller.
     
Most folks don't seem to have a problem with the process.

Ron Haselnus of Salisbury, Md. says he doesn't think "it's any different than taking fingerprints or any other evidence at the scene of the crime."

But groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union in Maryland have been fighting certain aspects of this law.

In February, they testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee and said, "The use of DNA in an investigation in which it is relevant, supported by a warrant or court order, is completely different from the mass collection and permanent retention created in 2009."

"I don't believe that its unconstitutional and I hope it doesn't set us back," said Keller.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on King v. State of Maryland later this year. The case involves a Salisbury man convicted of a 2003 rape based on D-N-A evidence taken during an assault arrest six years after the initial rape arrest. The Justices will decide if it is constitutional for police to take DNA samples in this manner.

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