Impact of court's decision on DNA samples unclear in Ga. - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Impact of court's decision on DNA samples unclear in Ga.

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ATLANTA -

A divided U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police can take DNA samples from people they arrest for serious crimes. The court decision comes in a Maryland case and it's unclear if it will have an effect in Georgia.


The 5-4 Supreme Court majority equated DNA cheek swabs to fingerprints and mug shots following arrest for a serious crime, but the court's dissent warned of a major change in police powers.
    
At least 28 states and the federal government take DNA swabs following an arrest. Georgia allows that step only in cases of people who have felony convictions.

GBI Assistant Director Dan Kirk told FOX 5's Paul Yates that the bureau annually enters about 20,000 DNA samples in the state's database. About 270,000 DNA profiles are currently in the system.

"In the state of Georgia, right now we collect DNA samples from all convicted felons, whether they are on probation or incarcerated in one of our facilities," Kirk said.

But while the High Court's decision will likely allow states to resume and expand programs to take DNA samples from people who are arrested, that will not be the case here in Georgia unless state law is changed.

The GBI estimates that expansion of DNA sampling would cost the state about $3,5 million.

The state Senate this year approved legislation allowing DNA cheek swabs following felony arrests, but the bill stalled in the state House. The measure's sponsor told FOX 5 that he will try to win final passage next year.
       
Supporters of changing Georgia law say all the states bordering Georgia allow DNA sampling of people arrested for serious crimes.

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