Statement from AG Cooper on US Supreme Court decision upholding collection of DNA samples from arrestees
Release date: 6/3/2013
“It’s important that the Supreme Court has confirmed that DNA is the twenty-first century fingerprint. Collecting DNA samples from arrestees pinpoints suspects quickly, gets criminals off the streets sooner, saves tax dollars and investigative resources, and clears suspects who have been wrongly accused.”
The United States Supreme Court on Monday ruled that law enforcement can collect DNA samples from arrestees, equating the practice to fingerprinting and photographing suspects upon arrest.
At Cooper’s urging the North Carolina legislature approved collecting DNA upon arrest for violent felonies starting in 2011.
In North Carolina, the State Crime Lab, a part of the State Bureau of Investigation in Cooper’s Department of Justice, maintains the state’s DNA database and provides law enforcement with analysis of evidence that may contain DNA. The North Carolina DNA database contains nearly 240,000 profiles and has helped to solve more than 2,200 cases since its inception in 1994.
The database includes profiles from all convicted felons and since February 1, 2011 also includes profiles from certain arrestees under the state law backed by Cooper. The lab obtained hits to 47 arrestee DNA profiles since the law’s enactment. A hit can help law enforcement solve a case with no known suspects and can also clear wrongly accused suspects.
In North Carolina, local law enforcement agencies take DNA samples from certain arrestees by cheek swab. The samples are then analyzed and uploaded to the state and national DNA databases. The samples are run against DNA taken from unsolved crimes to look for matches, and stored to compare against evidence collected from crime scenes. If an arrestee isn’t convicted or the case is dismissed, the arrestee’s sample is removed.
Media contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413