Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the practice of taking DNA samples from people arrested in felony cases, even if they are not charged. The ruling on Maryland v. King was made in a 5-4 decision. In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:
"Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee's DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure."
Justice Scalia disagreed. He warned:
"Make no mistake about it: because of today's decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason."
On shows like Law and Order and CSI, DNA evidence is depicted as the kind of conclusive evidence that can swiftly make or break cases. In real life, however, it's a little more messy. And the public's perception of DNA evidence only makes things more complicated.
Gregory Laskowski, a criminologist and consultant to the CBS series CSI, explains.
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