A Correct Move on DNA Testing

In one of the few bright spots in the long, cold night of the O’Malley administration the governor announced yesterday that the backlog of DNA tests in criminal investigations was on the way to being solved.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said yesterday that a significant state backlog in DNA testing is likely to be eliminated by early next year and that he is considering asking the legislature to allow sampling from suspects before they are convicted.

O’Malley (D) made the announcements during a visit to the state’s forensic lab in Pikesville. The outing was intended to showcase progress made during O’Malley’s first six months as governor in addressing an inherited backlog of 24,000 untested DNA samples from convicted felons.


O’Malley said the state has made progress by hiring additional scientists, raising salaries at the lab and buying much-needed equipment. He and state police officials, who run the lab, said that at the current pace, the backlog will be eliminated by February.

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At least that’s the story today. We’ll be sure to check back in and see how much of the funding for “raising salaries and buying much-needed equipment” found its way into the pockets of politically connected Democrats.

Be that as it may, the governor is right on one issue here. DNA samples, just like fingerprints and a mugshot, need to be taken at arrest. Waiting until conviction to take these samples, given their value in clearing cold cases (here | here), makes no sense.

The penumbras formed by various emanations from the Bill of Rights, we are told, give us a “right to privacy.” We do not, however, have a right to anonymity.

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