Austin’s police chief Art Acevedo, has a plan to expand DNA testing to everyone suspected of a crime. Current law restricts DNA testing to certain felony convictions.
Art’s scheme would mean that the innocent arrested would have their genetic code on file in a government database for over eager bureaucrats and cops to pour over at will.
First, being arrested for a crime should not give rise to the forfeiture of one’s genetic code. Innocent Texans are arrested every day.
Second, our Texas crime labs are plagued by incompetence and a bias towards helping the state convict. Our state struggles to honestly and accurately maintain relatively simple DWI breath machines. Adding a massive DNA database to an already broken system would only compound the problem.
Finally, the Supreme Court’s Herring decision means that the state has no incentive to maintain a DNA database with any accuracy.
I couldn’t find any actual bill filed related to this doltish idea. If a bill is filed, we must all speak out to prevent to stop this Orwellian disaster.
Here is the future if Art’s vision becomes reality.
You get arrested for DWI. During the book in process you are required to submit a DNA sample. It’s a weak case and you are found not guilty at trial.
Meanwhile, there is a unsolved murder with DNA evidence. A crime lab flunkie messes up the DNA samples. The lab tech wants to help the police convict someone so she covers up her mistakes. Her faulty lab tests names you as the killer.
A warrant is issued for your arrest. The police arrest you, and find a joint in your pocket. The DA knows the lab tech is incompetent and crooked, but the prosecutor doesn’t inform your lawyer of this. After all, the prosecutor is immune from Brady violation lawsuits.
After a year in jail your defense lawyer finally gets a DNA retest and you are released. However, the state puts you on trial for that joint you had in your pocket, because in a post-Herring world database errors don’t invalidate a warrant.
You are sentenced to the usual drug court probation nonsense with weekly NA classes. The stress of the situation leaves you unable to work or perform community service. So the judge throws you in jail for violating probation.
Further reading- Radley Balko on the epidemic of faulty science in criminal cases.