DNA testing in Indiana, nationally: the veritable can of worms

It’s your DNA … right?

Apparently, legions of people — both in Indiana and across the country — are more than a bit discomforted when it comes to the idea of being forced to provide genetic material to criminal law authorities.

Is that even the least bit surprising?

Such a sentiment of course makes immediate sense for, say, a violent offender who knows that he (or she) likely left significant DNA evidence behind at a crime scene.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here, or what a recent media report from the Indianapolis Star is centrally addressing.

We’re referring to forced DNA samples provided by individuals who are ultimately not convicted of any crime. Some states allow the practice. Others do not. In Indiana, a DNA sample is not placed into the federal database housing such data unless a criminal suspect is convicted on a felony charge.

Should it be otherwise?

Unsurprisingly, many law enforcement officials and administrators argue that DNA collection following every arrest is a sound practice to combat crime and deter future wrongdoing.

And just as obvious is the blow back on that from civil liberty groups, defense attorneys and, apparently, a broad swath of the American public.

What is more intrinsic about a human — and personal to that individual — than his or her genetic makeup? Should government officials be able to demand a DNA sample in the absence of a crime or any conviction ever being obtained? Doesn’t DNA collection signify a fundamental breach of privacy and a most questionable seizure?

A DNA-related bill introduced into the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year died before even reaching a committee hearing.

One Indiana University law professor sometimes raises the subject with her students. She says that most “are not OK” with required DNA submissions.

A common response from people queried about genetic testing, she says, is “I don’t want the government to have my DNA.”