Georgia May Join 27 Other States that Take DNA during Booking

A bill that allows police to gather DNA along with fingerprints will be voted on by the Georgia House of representatives in their next session beginning in January of 2014. The measure passed after multiple attempts to win the majority vote. The primary obstacle in case of this legislation has been several groups that argue that taking DNA before people are convicted is a violation of privacy and treats the innocent like they have already been found guilty.

Georgia law already allows police to gather DNA from convicted felons, but the new law will allow law enforcement to collect and analyze samples prior to conviction.

In essence, this “flies in the face” of the American legal notion that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The senator sponsoring the bill is Josh Koon of Columbus. A provision of the proposed law says that the DNA profile must be discarded if the person is not convicted. Koon hopes this stipulation will help the bill gain support.

Koon is expecting that this law will lead to more arrests stemming from the state’s DNA database. A recent newspaper article reported that the state has resolved fewer crimes based on the database than other smaller states.

Other arguments against the bill include the cost of DNA analysis, the back-up of the DNA testing in rape cases, and the already heavy loads of the law enforcement officers who will collect the DNA. In spite of these arguments Senator Koon is optimistic about the measure’s enactment since the more difficult Constitutional issue regarding privacy rights has already been decided in the Supreme Court.