Opinion

Decision on convicts' DNA makes sense

State Supreme Court judges issued a common sense opinion in an important DNA case.

By a 7-2 vote, the justices said that collection of DNA samples from felons is constitutional. The jurists rejected the opponent's argument that taking DNA samples from convicts violates their privacy rights."

"The state already collects from convicted persons identifying information such as photographs and fingerprints; a DNA sample is simple another piece of identifying information," said Justice Charles Johnson, writing fo the majority that included Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and Justices Barbara Madsen and James Johnson. Justices Tom Chambers, Susan Owens and Bobbe Bridge issued concurring opinions. Justices Richard Sanders and Mary Fairhurst dissented.

Collection of DNA samples from convicted felons is critically important because it can be used to link inmates to other crimes. The DNA database is a valuable law enforcement tool.

In his majority opinion, Justice Charles Johnson said convicts have a lesser expectation of privacy than the general population, as their identities and physical characteristics have already become part of the public record - in police reports, for example.

It was a solid legal decision backed by common sense.

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