TOPEKA – (January 10, 2013) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today that he has joined attorneys general from across the nation in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a state’s authority to collect DNA samples from suspects arrested for violent crimes.
The high court will hear arguments next month over the constitutionality of collecting DNA samples from individuals who have been arrested for violent crimes but who are not yet convicted. State attorneys general, in a brief filed last week, argued that DNA collection laws serve an important public safety function and are constitutional. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico joined in urging the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision that struck down a Maryland DNA-collection law.
Kansas is one of 28 states that, by state law, collect DNA samples from certain violent crime suspects at the time of arrest for use in a forensic identification database.
“The DNA database is a valuable tool to help protect our communities against repeat offenders,” Schmidt said. “Kansans have determined that collecting DNA at the time of arrest will help solve violent crimes more quickly, and we are strongly defending the authority of our state to make that decision.”
The state attorneys general argue that use of DNA databases improves the ability of law enforcement agencies to solve crime, while helping to minimize the number of innocent persons being investigated for crimes they did not commit.
The states said an adverse Supreme Court decision also would jeopardize the constitutionality of fingerprinting and collection of other identifying information about criminal defendants at the time of arrest, practices that have been in place for decades. The case is Maryland v. King.