Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors are trying to drum up
support for a proposed law that would require anyone arrested for a
felony to give up a DNA sample that would be put into a
Although the bill overwhelmingly passed the
Illinois House last month, a spokeswoman for Senate President Emil
Jones (D-Chicago) has said the chances of it coming up for a Senate
vote aren't good.
Still, Chicago police officials pointed to a similar measure in
Virginia, which last year began taking DNA from people arrested on
felony charges. The measure solved 81 crimes, including taking 21
rapists off the street, said Michael Monahan, special counsel to
Chicago Police Supt. Philip Cline.
"DNA from arrestees will
solve hundreds of unsolved murders and rapes while preventing
thousands in the future," Cline said Wednesday.
said retrieving DNA after arrests could rule out innocent people more
quickly and make sure dangerous offenders are off the streets, said
Jerry Lawrence a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's
"A crucial component of the justice system is to
identify the guilty and protect the innocent. DNA can do this more
reliably than fingerprints, which have been taken at booking of
arrests for years," Lawrence said.
But the American Civil
Liberties Union and the state appellate defender's office oppose the
measure. They argue that taking a DNA sample after every felony
arrest is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, said Kathy
Saltmarsh, a legislative liaison for the appellate defender's
They said the bill should be limited to arrests in
serious violent offenses. Also, the bill should allow a judge to
decide if a sample should be taken, Saltmarsh said.
too broad," she said. "The right to privacy is of greater concern
than any benefit that it would have to law enforcement."
state is already overwhelmed by a DNA evidence backlog, Saltmarsh
said. Currently, convicted felons must give up a DNA sample in
prison. Officials are still taking samples from prisoners.
The state also has a backlog of more than 1,000 untested rape kits,
in which DNA and other evidence from a victim or crime scene are
This week, federal officials said more than 540,000 DNA
samples have not been tested. Of these, 162,000 are from rape cases
and 52,000 are from homicide cases, according to a study released by
the National Institute of Justice.