DNA Bill: AP Ignores AP Report

On May 19, the Associated Press reported:

A Longmont man charged in the 1975 stabbing deaths of a Grand Junction mother and her daughter has been ordered to submit fingerprints, DNA and other identifying information as part of the police investigation into the case.

Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn issued the order Friday for 64-year-old Jerry Nemnich. The order was made public on Monday.

Two days later, the Associated Press claimed, “Gov. Bill Ritter has signed a bill that would require anyone arrested for a felony to submit a DNA sample. … Under the previous state law, only people who are convicted of crimes must submit DNA.”

Apparently Associated Press writers neglect to read Associated Press news reports. It is obviously not the case that “under the previous state law, only people who are convicted of crimes must submit DNA.” Under previous law, a judge could order DNA samples. You know, under the “due process” provision of the apparently superfluous Bill of Rights.

To date, nobody has seriously addressed my concern that the new law — which I called “Bill 1984” for its Orwellian implications — will encourage police and prosecutors to arrest and charge people just to get a look at their DNA.

That has not stopped Colorado Republicans from crowing about the new police-state law. On May 21, Owen Loftus issued a media release calling it a “GOP Bill,” sponsored by Republicans Steve King and Scott Tipton. (Ritter is a Democrat and the former District Attorney for Denver.)

And State Senator Josh Penry, a leading potential candidate for governor, said in a separate release, “This is a big victory for the good guys. We know this bill will catch murderers, serial rapists and sexual predators who attack children. This legislation also underscores how members of both parties can come together to make Colorado safer — and violent criminals, more accountable.”

But what about the accountability of the police and prosecution, Josh? What about our fundamental rights to security of person and due process? What about the presumption of innocence?

When the police need not respect people’s basic rights as they go about their job, that is not a “victory for the good guys.” Instead, it blurs the line between good guys and bad, and it perverts the purpose of government from protecting rights to violating them.

This is an unpleasant reminder as to why I am not a Republican.