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View Diary: SCOTUS to decide on DNA collection in rape case. (89 comments)

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  •  If that's the way you feel about it why don't we (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rb137, stellaluna

    just have mandatory DNA tests done on everyone in America. Think of all the crimes that could be solved! Sorry, but getting arrested doesn't mean you surrender your rights whether you're guilty or not. Yes, it sucks for victims of crimes. But it sucks more for innocent people put away for crimes they didn't commit. And that does happen, even with DNA evidence. Did you follow the case in NJ (IIRC) where the DNA testing lab was making shit up to get convictions in drug cases? That's not some hypothetical science fictionish problem, that happened for real. And it's not the only case nationally where DNA testing was done improperly. And once you get into the system, even under improper circumstances, there is virtually no way to remove that "criminal" evidence. So a future employer doing a web sweep on you turns up the fact you have DNA evidence from a criminal case and decides that other applicant gets the job.

    To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:40:24 PM PST

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    •  In some sense... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ontheleftcoast, gramofsam1

      And maybe in a legal one, your DNA is becoming the same thing as your identity. You're not allowed to conceal your identity.

      Tampering can happen to any evidence at any level -- there is nothing special here. There is no evil demon for DNA evidence that doesn't apply to any other physical evidence. The issue, I think, is that people (juries) do not understand very much about DNA evidence, and could confuse witness testimony.

      Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this, and attaining enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

      by rb137 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:48:55 PM PST

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      •  Yeah, ignorance of science is a problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rb137

        But what bothers me more is the "guilty until proven innocent" that will inevitably happen because of aggressive "harvesting" of DNA. With the internet all data is effectively public data and the poor, minorities, those who can least afford to protect themselves from the misuse of that data will be, as sure as the sun rises, implicated falsely by their own DNA. Unless strict rules for DNA privacy are put into place I don't see enough good from DNA sweeps to justify the harm it will inflict.

        To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

        by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:57:35 PM PST

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        •  Do DNA swabs get posted on the internet? (2+ / 0-)
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          ontheleftcoast, rb137

          I never knew that...that certainly is a horse of a different color.

          Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

          by Keith930 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:01:12 PM PST

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          •  You'd be shocked at how much data from police (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rb137

            files is available on the internet. With $30 and their SSN number the amount of information anyone can get on anyone else is down right scary. I do not know how much DNA evidence would be available, at least intentionally, at this point. But I want a bright line in the sand drawn and rules in place to deal with the consequences of its misuse before we start giving the police the right to harvest it on suspicion alone that a crime may have been committed.

            To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

            by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:17:49 PM PST

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        •  Nobody is "implicated falsely (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rb137, FloraLine

          by their own DNA".  If DNA matching your profile is found in physical evidence from a crime scene there is nothing false about the "implication" that you were there (not necessarily at the time the crime was committed and not necessarily the perp, but . . .).  In that regard it is no different from finding your fingerprint.

          In fact collecting DNA samples is no different from collecting fingerprints, and leaving DNA at a crime scene is no different from leaving a fingerprint there . . . except DNA is less likely than a fingerprint to be misinterpreted.

          DNA evidence does not produce false or erroneous convictions.  If you're charged with a rape you didn't commit the first thing you should do is demand that they take a DNA sample.  If you're a serial rapist who hasn't been caught yet then yes, you should fear the swab.

          There is no "harm it will inflict" . . . DNA identifies the guilty (still leaving it for the courts to convict and get them off the street) and acquits the innocent.  There is no down side to that . . .
           

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:54:30 PM PST

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          •  Wrong. (0+ / 0-)

            Check out the cases where shoddy handling of DNA evidence (and down right criminal fraud) has resulted in convictions of thousands of people.

            DNA is different than fingerprints in that laypeople just assume "a match is a match" because the lab says so. With finger print evidence you can look at it and see it's reasonably close. When you're told "19 alleles matched" what does that mean?

            But even that isn't what worries me the most. Once your data gets into the system, for any reason, it will sit there forever -- whether or not there was any reason for it to be collected in the first place. And that should bother you as much as it does me. Because I do not trust the authorities to "do the right thing" especially with regards to the rights of minorities in this country.

            To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

            by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:04:36 PM PST

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            •  That is so false, (0+ / 0-)

              and so demonstrably false, that I have to call it a lie.

              There simply are not "thousands of people" falsely convicted by erroneous DNA evidence.  It is unlikely that there are any.  It just doesn't work that way . . .

              Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

              by Deward Hastings on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:36:10 PM PST

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              •  DNA testing is exclusionary, not conclusive (0+ / 0-)

                This is how people get proven innocent, when part of their DNA pattern can be shown to NOT be in the suspect DNA they're eliminated. What alleles and markers are tested for will have a significant effect as to the ability to rule someone out as a suspect.

                But that's where being poor becomes a crime. A typical test will have a false positive rate of 1 in 10,000 and unless you can afford a much better test that can do a better job of eliminating you from the set of possible suspects you're unlucky and thus guilty. Worse, if the sample from the crime scene is contaminated in any way it may be impossible to get better exclusionary testing.

                But that's not the only way DNA is misused. Poor handling of DNA evidence has caused major cities like Houston to shut down their labs and throw out convictions based on faulty evidence. Recently a DNA lab was shown to be falsifying evidence to get convictions in drug cases. Maybe thousands is too high, though I seriously doubt it.

                To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

                by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 11:38:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  "DNA labs" don't do "drug cases" (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FloraLine

                  unless there's a homocide or rape involved, or some other severely extenuating circumstance.  Different techniques, different technologies altogether.  Controlled substance analysis is usually done (as an entry level position) at a "full service" crime lab (which may, of course, do DNA in a different part of the facility).  You are unlikely (very unlikely) to find the same criminalist working both.

                  Innocent or victim, DNA is your friend . . . you only have to worry about "getting caught" (by DNA testing) if you did it . . .

                  Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                  by Deward Hastings on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:48:46 AM PST

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    •  Did I suggest that? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rb137

      No...I didn't.  But thanks for the hyperbole, anyway.  

      Just out of curiosity...let's throw out a first arrest, and say no harm, no foul, no DNA swab.  How about a second arrest?  How long would a persons rap sheet have to get before you get off you high horse and say, "Swab 'em, Dano"?

      Principles are so clean and neat,...and life and humanity is so not that.

      Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:59:38 PM PST

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      •  I'm glad you trust the police with everything (0+ / 0-)

        they might do to you. I know lots of people who don't share your optimism about that. And those people sent to prison for crimes they didn't commit, ask them about it being "hyperbole". Or were they all guilty of something because the police only arrest guilty people? Every day we see evidence of the police and prosecutors abusing their authority and you want them to have more ways to do that. Sorry, but I don't. And that's not some academic, high-faluting, ivory-tower theory. That's reality.

        To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

        by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:08:51 PM PST

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        •  I don't trust the police (0+ / 0-)

          I just trust the guy who gets arrested for assault, and has 3 priors, even less.

          Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

          by Keith930 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:16:46 PM PST

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          •  But in the case in Maryland did the suspect have (0+ / 0-)

            any priors? Once he was convicted, not merely charged with, his crime in 2009 I'd understand the logic of testing his DNA against unsolved prior crimes. But the swab was taken and the hunt for his DNA began immediately. Now you can claim he effectively had a "prior" in that he raped someone but obviously nobody knew that. And if he was found innocent of the 2009 charges should his DNA still have been run thru the system hoping to find a match against a prior crime? On what legal grounds would that claim be based?

            To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

            by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:25:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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