Weatherford Democrat

Top News

February 13, 2013

Why collecting DNA from people who are arrested won't solve more crimes

In April 2009, police easily arrested Alonzo J. King, Jr. in Wicomico County, Md. After King pointed a shotgun at a group of people, one of them told the police who did it, and King readily admitted his guilt. He was originally charged with felony assault and ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

This seemingly insignificant criminal case is now before the Supreme Court, with arguments later this month. That's because of what the authorities did next. When King was arrested, police took a cotton swab of skin cells from inside his cheek for DNA testing. They did not need his DNA to link him to the shotgun incident. Instead, the police entered King's DNA profile into both the Maryland DNA database and the FBI's national database, CODIS. King's profile, like all those in the database, was then automatically compared every week to evidence from all unsolved crimes. And, in fact, King's DNA matched DNA from an unsolved sexual assault case, for which he was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

If Maryland had required King to submit his DNA once he was convicted, then there would be no Supreme Court challenge. So far courts have all upheld DNA collection from felons, reasoning that convicts forfeit some of the rights of ordinary citizens. Maryland v. King is about something new: More than one-half of the 50 states (including Maryland) and the federal government authorize compulsory collection of DNA from people who have been arrested. But the Supreme Court has never held that if police have probable cause to arrest, they can also search a suspect for evidence of past or future crimes. Maryland's justification for this unprecedented expansion of police power? Bigger is better. Add arrestee profiles to the database, and more crimes will be solved.

Text Only
Top News
  • cigarette butts.jpg No butts about it, smoking ban nears

    Weatherford eating establishments have just over a week to get their no smoking signs in place and prepare for the no smoking ordinance enacted by the city council in February to go into effect.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hamilton, Lee.jpg HAMILTON: Government as innovator? You bet!

    Five years ago, the federal government spent $169 billion to fund basic research and development. This fiscal year, it’s down to $134 billion.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Showing respect

    My sister Robbie Benton’s funeral was Friday afternoon at White’s Funeral Home. The gravesite was outside of Mineral Wells. The respect shown by the good folks of Parker County and the surrounding area was overwhelming.

    April 17, 2014

  • Proposed change in city charter goes before W’ford voters next month

    Weatherford residents will have the chance to vote on a pair of charter amendments on Election Day May 10.

    April 16, 2014

  • IMG_7134.JPG Despite cold, peach crops looking rosy

    Parker County peach growers won’t know for sure for a few more days, but as of Wednesday, one day after April temperatures plummeted into the low 30s, they’re predicting a good, even rosy, peach harvest for this year’s Parker County Peach Festival.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Larue, Jeffrey.jpg Wanted sex offender found in Weatherford

    A sex offender reportedly sought by Hood County authorities after failing to register as required was found in a Weatherford hotel last week, police say, after exposing himself to an employee.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Animal shelter throwing a party

    The Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter made a promise to its staff, volunteers and rescues that if the shelter was able to achieve a 90 percent live release rate by the end of March, the shelter would throw a community-wide party to celebrate its accomplishments.

    April 16, 2014

  • Veterans Memorial Rendering.jpg Cabin fever

    Weatherford Parks and Recreation officials are looking to renovate two areas to make them more user friendly.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0416 loc WISD new HR director.jpg Chapman named WISD’s new Human Resources director

    Members of the Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees last week approved Monty Chapman as the district’s new executive director of Human Resources.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Parker County man killed in single-vehicle wreck

    A 60-year-old Parker County man was killed around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in a one-vehicle crash in the 2100 block of FM Road 3325, also known as Farmer Road.

    April 15, 2014

Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
Poll

The City of Weatherford is considering an ordinance that would ban smoking inside restaurants and enclosed areas where food is prepared, sold or consumed. Do you agree with this proposal?

Yes
No
Undecided
Don't care
     View Results