William Thien

On Taking DNA Upon Arrest Rather Than Conviction

Posted on: June 19, 2013

Where I reside the state legislature is scheduled to vote on a budget package that includes a provision authorizing law enforcement to take DNA from someone upon arrest. I telephoned my local legislator expressing my concern about taking DNA upon arrest rather than conviction. The budget is structured as a package and the provision with regard to taking DNA upon arrest cannot be removed from the budget as it is written.

Upon the advent of fingerprinting as a forensic tool there was a corresponding decrease in crime as investigators were able to make connections between criminal events and arrest the correct suspect. That is likely to be the case with the implementation of a DNA database. We would like to see that law enforcement has every tool at its disposal to solve crimes and DNA extraction is one of the most effective methods.

My problem though with extracting DNA upon arrest is that the DNA is going to the government. Unlike fingerprints, which are an external characteristic of a person, DNA is internal and the grand structure or design of a person. With today’s technology DNA can be altered, replicated, and manipulated for any number of reasons.

There is a sort of “creational,” theological value to DNA in a sense because it is believed by some that within the complexities of the DNA may lie the engine or source of the soul. To me, a theologian might find that the matter of DNA extraction by the government is a matter of the separation of church and state. Honestly, at this time I am not certain as to who, whom, or what I would choose, church or state, as the arbiter of such matters. Both choices concern me.

So, perhaps it is better to wait for a conviction before taking a person’s DNA. This may be one time the acquisition of evidence should occur later rather than sooner. The less time the government has your DNA, the less time it has to manipulate the DNA if it so chooses. My concern does not lie with the fear that the police themselves will somehow adulterate the DNA evidence but rather that the DNA will get into the wrong hands somehow once a database is constructed.

With your DNA material in the hands of the government, there is no telling what will be done.

Governments have been known to become monsters with such power and so too have religions.

Note: You should know that my DNA is on file with a branch of The US Military and was taken during a military physical a couple of years ago to be used to identify my remains. So I am not entirely against the process of using DNA for the purposes of identification.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

Sign up to receive updates. It’s easy, safe, and free. Just go to the upper right hand corner of this page and add your email address.

Advertisements

1 Response to "On Taking DNA Upon Arrest Rather Than Conviction"

“There is a sort of “creational,” theological value to DNA in a sense because it is believed by some that within the complexities of the DNA may lie the engine or source of the soul. To me, a theologian might find that the matter of DNA extraction by the government is a matter of the separation of church and state. Honestly, at this time I am not certain as to who, whom, or what I would choose, church or state, as the arbiter of such matters. Both choices concern me.”

That is a very interesting point and well said.
I think you articulated my vague doubts about DNA ‘print gathering.’ I too immediately saw the upside —– but yet I had existential doubts about it as well.

The ‘creational theological’ value you speak of is especially interesting when you look at how it may eventually interact with emerging technologies. you’re right about already existing ability to manipulate DNA; who really knows how that personal a marker of yourself may be manipulated tomorrow?

I like that phrase, definition: ‘creational, theological.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Find by month

Find by date

June 2013
M T W T F S S
« May   Jul »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
Follow William Thien on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: