February 5, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the Justice Department’s move to collect DNA samples of individuals who are arrested or detained by federal authorities - even if they are not convicted, or charged with a crime. That collection was authorized in an amendment authored by Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) to the Violence Against Women Act in 2005.

The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"Wholesale DNA collection violates basic American values about our right to privacy. DNA is far more than a simple fingerprint. DNA testing reveals medical information about individuals and their families - and the practice of keeping these samples permanently is an open invitation to data mining.

"Prosecution of rapists will be further delayed by this poorly conceived program. The huge backlog of rape kits waiting to be tested will continue to grow as the government collects DNA from hundreds of thousands or even millions of individuals arrested or detained. This includes those who are never actually charged with a crime - and those who are charged and found innocent.

"Backlogs mean justice denied for victims. The Justice Department should focus on doing the job right when it comes to following up on the few serious crimes that do involve DNA evidence, and not wasting limited police resources on mass DNA testing."

The ACLU’s letter on the Kyl-Cornyn Amendment is available at: www.aclu.org/crimjustice/gen/19885leg20050929.html

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