According to the New Jersey DNA database, there are approximately 225,000 DNA samples on record of individuals who have been convicted of a crime. But that number could go up if a bill is passed through the New Jersey Assembly. The bill, which has already passed a Senate vote, would require anyone who is arrested to provide a DNA sample to police. The current law requires people convicted of a crime to provide the sample.
When it comes to crimes like sex crimes, an arrest does not necessarily mean a conviction. Sometimes allegations are false and the charges are dropped against the accused person. But if this bill passes, individuals arrested for sex crimes, even if the charges are later dropped, would be required to provide a DNA sample.
The biggest topic of debate is whether this type of bill goes too far. Those who oppose the bill are concerned that the additional DNA samples may be a burden to already strained police departments. In addition, keeping DNA samples on record for people simply arrested for a crime could pose privacy issues.
Supporters of the bill believe that this would allow law enforcement to better protect people in society who are not breaking the law. In addition, these DNA samples would give police a wider database to solve crimes, identify missing persons, and even determine when someone is using a false identity.
Currently almost 24 states already have a law similar to this New Jersey proposal in place. If New Jersey passes the law, there are a number of other considerations such as process and integrity of samples that will have to be established in order to best protect the individuals providing the samples.
But is it necessary to require DNA samples upon arrest? If someone who is arrested refuses to give a DNA sample, they can be charged with a crime and be forced to give a DNA sample regardless. The bill is currently awaiting an Assembly vote.
Source: NJ.com, "Assembly bill would require anyone arrested in N.J. to give DNA sample,"Christopher Baxter, 23 June 2011