O'Malley Administration: DNA Collection Rules Criticized;Proposal Unclear on When to Take, Expunge Samples, Some Say.
Post, 4 Sep 2008 (Rein).
Leading black lawmakers and civil rights activists accused the administration of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) yesterday of reneging on safeguards in a new law that expands police powers to collect DNA samples from crime suspects.
The critics said that regulations proposed by the Maryland State Police in how the law will be implemented fail to ensure that officers take DNA samples only when someone is formally charged with certain violent crimes, not when arrested. That was a key change that the Legislative Black Caucus had negotiated with O'Malley officials before the General Assembly passed the bill this year.
The caucus, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, the Maryland NAACP and the state public defender's office also said the regulations do not clearly explain procedures for expunging DNA samples from the records of suspects who are found not guilty, nor do they prevent police from using partial matches to pursue relatives they think might have committed crimes.
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As for expunging a sample if charges are dropped or a suspect is cleared, critics said the regulations don't give clear instructions on how to make sure the samples are removed from federal databases.
"We're very concerned the expungement provision does not ensure destruction," said Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George's). . . . [Full story]