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    Washington Post: Md. high court bans DNA swabs of charged suspects

    The Washington Post reports on a case in Maryland concerning privacy and DNA testing:

    Maryland’s top law enforcement officials are pushing back against a recent Court of Appeals decision that prohibits DNA collection from suspects charged — but not yet convicted — of violent crimes, saying the ruling will allow dangerous criminals to go undetected by authorities.

    Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and police chiefs and prosecutors from the D.C. suburbs to Baltimore County are urging the state’s attorney general to challenge last week’s Alonzo Jay King Jr. v. State of Maryland decision, which found that swabbing criminal suspects for DNA samples after they are charged is a violation of the suspects’ constitutional rights.

    The ruling, police and prosecutors say, could jeopardize the convictions of 34 robbers, burglars and rapists whose genetic samples were taken after they were charged in separate cases. They also said it will hamper detectives’ ability to solve cold cases. […]

    The case puts Maryland at the center of a brewing national debate that raises the age-old question of how to balance privacy rights and public safety. Federal and state courts across the country have issued mixed opinions on when DNA collection is legal. The governor’s office says 26 states have legislation similar to Maryland’s. […]

    David Rocah, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland, said that while DNA collection before conviction might be a useful law enforcement tool, its effectiveness in fighting crime does not make it constitutional.

    “There’s lots of things that police might want to do that will help them catch criminals, but that’s not what we do to judge the propriety of police actions,” Rocah said.

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