The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 3 decision allowing DNA collections of those arrested for but not yet convicted of serious crimes gives new life to legislation, SB 150, that requires such DNA collections in Pennsylvania, according to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, the bill’s sponsor.
Pileggi said he expects a floor vote on the bill in the near future.
“We know from the experience of other states that this kind of DNA collection will help solve violent crimes and it will get violent serial offenders off the streets,” he said. “In light of the decision, Pennsylvania should move quickly to enact Senate Bill 150.”
But Andy Hoover, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said the Supreme Court decision says nothing about the cost of moving forward with DNA collections or how to deal with backlog already in the system. He said Senate approval guarantees nothing in the state House of Representatives.
“The House stopped it cold last session,” Hoover said of the bill. “I still don’t think they have anywhere near the votes to pass it.”
According to a statement released by Pileggi’s office, the court’s decision in Maryland v. King held that “when officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
SB 150 also seeks to authorize a new type of DNA search to help identify suspects in unsolved crimes, strengthens privacy protections and requires DNA laboratories and technicians to meet national standards.