SEATTLE (AP) — A bill before the Legislature would have Washington join a growing number of states that automatically collect DNA from people when they’re arrested for a serious crime, rather than waiting until they’re convicted.
Police and prosecutors say doing so would help prevent cases like that of Anthony Dias in Pierce County. Dias was released on bail in 2005 after he was charged with felony hit-and-run, and he went on to commit crimes against 19 more people, including six rapes.
They say that if he had given a DNA sample when he was arrested for hit-and-run, they could have caught him after the first rape.
But some privacy advocates say those arrested remain innocent until proven guilty, and the state shouldn’t be able to collect such sensitive information about them in hopes of solving unrelated crimes. Courts around the country have split over whether requiring DNA samples in such cases violates the 4th Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
About half the states and the federal government have similar laws.