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On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police may take DNA from people arrested in connection with serious crimes. The federal government and 28 states, including California, collect DNA from people who have been arrested instead of waiting for a conviction. The majority opinion argued it’s a booking procedure, like modern day fingerprinting. But opponents say it’s a major change in police powers that tramples the privacy of suspects who haven’t been proven guilty. We discuss what the ruling will mean for pending challenges to California’s DNA collection program.

Guests:
Erin Murphy, professor of law at NYU Law School
Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences, and law professor at Stanford University
Larry Rosenthal, law professor at Chapman University; former U.S. Supreme Court and clerk and former federal prosecutor

  • thucy

    Note to Forum producers: The NYT just covered the Americas Cup issues today, and did not spare Ellison. The difference between such open criticism and the puffery given Ellison on Forum by giving his hagiographer a full hour on the show is pretty stark.

    Last week, on the egg freezing segment, Dr. Tober barely got two minutes total time to rebut UCSF’s Dr. Cedars.

    Yesterday, on the segment on Manning, you stacked the deck time-wise in opposition to Manning’s advocate from Iceland. I just listened to WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show segment on Manning this morning – the difference between Lehrer’s penetrating and fearless consideration of Manning’s war trauma and Shafer’s lack of questioning is really also very stark given that the Lehrer segment is less than half the time of the Shafer segment.

    In this segment, it looks like you’ve stacked the deck guest-wise against the sole dissenting opinion on yesterday’s SC decision, and in favor of measures approved by our inordinately powerful SFPD union.

    What’s going on here?

  • XX

    The boon of relying on DNA to solve things is just a temporary situation anyway.

    What happens in 10 years when you can buy a spray of mixed synthesized DNA solution that you can then spray over a crime scene such that there will be traces of 1000 different people’s DNA ?

    Or let’s say someone dumps the same stuff in an elevator or on the street. Now everyone would be tracking all sorts of fake DNA all over the place.

    This isn’t science fiction. something LIKE that already exists:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/world/europe/19rotterdam.html?_r=0

    SO this abuse by the government is going to be rendered useless by technology anyway.

    RA

  • chrisnfolsom

    They should be able to keep the information regarding your
    personal ID only – a VERY small subset of the DNA – not the entire DNA
    sample. Then they are able to do their search and compare – just as
    with a finger print. If you are matched then they can do it again to
    make sure – no family usage – 1 to 1 match. All the other mental issues and such are for the court room.

    With the very large recidivism rates and really a
    pretty small subset of our culture creating these “problems” it just
    makes sense – especially with rape and other issues.

    Personal privacy has a much bigger issue with online and credit information.

    • thucy

      Are you totally in denial about the existing abuse of DNA samples by SFPD?

      Or is the fact that blond males like yourself are unlikely ever to be targeted by a corrupt justice system means you don’t really care?

      • chrisnfolsom

        1. You are bad at judging hair color – you are “insulting” many intelligent blonde people?
        2. I have had plenty of dealing with law enforcement.
        3. I have been a victim as have many.
        4. Nothing is perfect, no one is perfect, but tools can help, and tools can be abused.
        5. Not denial about SFPD, just ignorant of this specific case… sorry, but does it nullify DNA evidence usage in all cases?

        6. If you cannot trust anyone than you can’t trust any form of physical evidence and if that is your statement then we have bigger problems then just the DNA issue discussed here – is that your point, or are you specifically talking about DNA evidence?
        7. Thanks for your viewpoint, sorry you had to resort to insults – I don’t exactly know why you felt you needed to use them.

        • thucy

          I fail to see where the insult lies. I merely pointed out that your fair coloring has protected you from police abuse and harassment. Do you not understand that?

          • chrisnfolsom

            Sorry I though that “blond males” was a reference to intelligence and not just being “fair” skinned. Having never been referred to as blond (more grey now) and my picture here is dark haired (is that really me?? ;). I am olive complected so no, I am not very dark skinned, or otherwise ethnic, but was called a “beaner” back in the 70’s……I have been in the army and experienced many cultures – and enjoyed them – and while my urban experience is limited I do not limit myself and consider myself about as open minded as I can be – my ramblings online are not me spewing “set facts”, but my opinion and observation which I expect (and enjoy) being challenged on their merits so in the end I can learn and perhaps share as I want nothing more than to learn, grow and perhaps make some sense of all this craziness. Have a nice day.

  • thucy

    Please address the abuse of DNA samples within our own local SFPD crime labs.
    DNA is only valid when the cops and prosecutors aren’t already prone to lying.

  • thucy
  • MattCA12

    Any DNA database we build as a society to use in law enforcement will eventually be of extremely limited value anyway. Whether through the deliberate contamination of crime scenes with “DNA bombs”, the nefarious manipulation of DNA evidence by authorities, or just database administration failures, the credibility of DNA evidence is going to diminish sooner rather than later. Nothing will ever replace good old fashioned police work.

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