Re: Monday’s Maryland v. King ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Q. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police may take DNA samples from persons arrested for serious crimes without having to get a court order, likening the DNA samples to fingerprints. May police personnel in Arkansas take DNA samples from persons arrested for serious crimes without a court order?
A. Arkansas is one of 28 states that collects DNA samples for use in a forensic identification database, according to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. DNA is collected under the so-called “Juli’s Law,” enacted in 2009 and amended in 2011, which requires the police to take DNA samples at the time of detention from persons arrested for capital murder, murder in the first degree, kidnapping, rape or sexual assault in the first or second degree. The law was named for Juli Busken, a 21-year-old Benton native who was killed in 1996 and whose killer was apprehended as a result of a DNA match. The AG’s office joined every state AG in an amicus brief filed in support of the Supreme Court case decided Monday, Maryland v. King.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was among the minority in the 5-4 vote, gave a scathing dissent from the bench, saying he fears police will begin to take DNA swabs for all arrests. “Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision,” he told the majority, “your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.”
Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the State Police, said that agency is reviewing its policy, which now requires state troopers to get consent or a court order before taking a DNA sample, to see if it complies with state and federal law.
Asked about LRPD policy on DNA swabs, Sgt. Cassandra Davis emailed the Times that “No one from the department is prepared to speak on this issue at this time.”