Proposition 69 would expand California law enforcement's right to collect DNA samples and store genetic information in the California DNA and Forensic Identification Data Base.
Proposition 69 requires collection of DNA samples from:
- adults and juveniles convicted of any felony offense
- adults and juveniles convicted of any sex offense or arson offense, or an attempt to commit such an offense (not just felonies)
- adults arrested for or charged with felony sex offenses, murder, or voluntary manslaughter (or the attempt to commit such offenses)
Additionally, starting in 2009:
- adults arrested for or charged with any felony offense
The statute would authorize local law enforcement laboratories to perform analyses for the state database and maintain local databases. Procedures for confidentiality and removing samples from databases are specified. This program will be funded by additional monetary penalties imposed upon certain court fines and criminal forfeitures. An initial $7 million dollar loan is authorized to implement the program.
Arguments For and Against
Proponents contend that too many crimes go unsolved because California does not have a comprehensive DNA database with samples from all convicted felons. They cite statistical evidence that states with stronger DNA collection laws are able to solve more crimes. They defend the confidentiality features of the proposition, asserting that the DNA fingerprint test used in the sample analysis yields no genetic trait information that could threaten the medical privacy of individuals. Furthermore, beginning in 2009, felony arrestees who are not convicted may have their DNA removed from the database.
Opponents object to the expansion of DNA collection to individuals who have not been found guilty of any crime. They hold that the privacy safeguards are inadequate, and that the state would not be required to act upon a request for removal of information from an innocent individual. They also contend that DNA is more than a fingerprint, that human genes contain a wealth of information that could be used for many purposes. Opponents assert that the costs of Proposition 69 are likely to be much higher than the proponents have indicated, and will take money from other public safety and education programs.