Over at United Liberty, Brett Bittner takes issue with State Rep. Rob Teilhet (D-Smyrna), also a candidate for Attorney General in Georgia, over his proposal to build a DNA database of anyone arrested of a felony.
Brett explains the problem with Teilhet’s planned legislation:
In this state, along with 46 other states with similar DNA collection laws, those CONVICTED of a violent felony are already subject to having their DNA taken, but this bill aims to take it further by including those whose only crime was being subject to arrest. That is where the Southern Center for Human Rights and I agree. This bill violates the civil liberties of those accused of a crime, not those whose rights are subject to suspension for crimes which one has committed or been convicted.
I do not use the term “slippery slope” generously, but this bill, and those like it, certainly place us on a slippery slope in terms of our Constitutional rights, as law enforcement agencies collecting these DNA samples place them in databases that are easily shared from agency to agency, especially with the recent introduction of fusion centers that allow information to be shared easily from departments and agencies nationwide. I am sure there are many among you that may say, “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about!”, but I ask that you take a look at stories like this or this that indicate otherwise. Neither of the victims of police violence did anything wrong either, but it did not stop the misconduct by the police that forever changed their lives. What is to stop a “dumbing down” of the police and other law enforcement agencies to the point of merely casting a net among those possibly involved, arresting them all to eliminate those without DNA matching evidence found at the scene of a crime? Or worse, subjecting all Americans to a mandatory DNA collection in the name of safety?
Currently, there are 21 states, including California and Tennessee, with laws in place collect DNA upon felony arrest, store it in perpetuity, and share it with whomever they like. The rationale used by supporters of pre-conviction DNA collection is that it identifies criminals earlier and creating efficiencies in the practices of investigation, blaming rights granted by the Constitution of these United States as slowing down law enforcement investigation. Those “pesky” rights they wish to bypass in the name of safety and investigation efficiency include a trial by a jury of peers, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and due process of law.
Even the most conservative among us can understand that anyone found innocent of a felony should not be included in such a database.
Apparently, a presumption of innocence and the right to due process don’t mean all that much to Rep. Teilhet, which is troublesome considering the office he is seeking. I understand that politicians like to appear to be “tough on crime.” It plays well to the public, but how dare you place basic civil liberties protected by the Constitution at risk to score political points.