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New Law Requires DNA Swabs from Felony Suspects

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Beginning in July, any person arrested for or charged with a felony in Ohio will be required to provide a DNA sample for the state’s criminal database. The retrieval of DNA will be conducted with a cotton swab taking saliva from inside the mouth.

The Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation in London, Ohio, currently processes 40,000 DNA samples annually. The new law will mean that the Bureau will have to more than double the number of samples it processes. Additionally, the sampling requirement will mean more work and more money for already-strapped local law enforcement officials.

Supporters of the new law argue that the testing will help solve crimes by allowing police to match DNA from current arrestees with DNA taken from old crime scenes.

Opponents argue that this law causes civil rights infringements and huge strains on public law enforcement officials who are already struggling with their workloads and budgets. The government has no right to take bodily fluids just because a person has been arrested because arrest is not proof of guilt of a crime. This law will lead to the storing of DNA evidence from many innocent people. Michael A. Harnishfeger, the president of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, said the change “certainly will mean additional steps to process folks.”

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