The Maryland House of Delegates is proposing a new DNA collection law pushed by Governor O’Malley. Under the proposed law, Maryland police and law enforcement agencies would routinely collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a criminal charge in Maryland. The result would be an expanded database of DNA from which to search in future cases, but civil libertarians argue that it is a violation of the rights of a person who has not been convicted of a crime.
Similar laws are in place in 12 states, including Virginia, and are being actively considered in 22 other states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Members of the Maryland legislatures Black Caucus are against the proposal, saying that it unfairly targets African-Americans, who are arrested at a much higher rate than whites. Supporters of the bill suggest that it is no more of a violation than collecting fingerprint samples during the booking process, but DNA is arguably much more personal, and contains sensitive and detailed information about a person’s medical history and background.