U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of DNA testing at arrest; Sen. Westerfield says he'll push for Ky law

06/03/2013 01:46 PM

The United States Supreme Court narrowly agreed Monday that DNA testing during the time of arrest for “serious crimes” is not a violation of the fourth amendment, and a Kentucky state Senator hopes that decision will spell legislative victory in Frankfort.

In a five-to-four split decision the court essentially granted the constitutional right to collect DNA evidence from criminals as part of the booking procedure – which already includes fingerprinting and photographing a suspected criminal. The court equated taking DNA as the 21st Century version of fingerprinting.

DNA collection in Kentucky has been a hotly debated topic in Frankfort in the last session. The House and Senate exchanged companion bills last session which would have allowed collection of DNA at felony arrest; a bill expanding post conviction DNA testing passed the General Assembly.

Senate Judiciary Chair Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, carried the Senate’s DNA bill and he told Pure Politics the decision from the Supreme Court was a good one he hoped could turn some fellow members of the General Assembly in favor of the legislation.

“The lives saved by this legislation are worth a two-second cheek swab,” Westerfield said.

Westerfield said the legislation filed last session does have provisions which act as safeguards from police and government overreach – including expunging of the DNA if not convicted.

While Westerfield said he didn’t know if the bill will be called during the summer interim session for debate, he does plan on filing a version of the legislation in the 2014 session.


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