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Proposition 69

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The DNA, Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime, and Innocence Protection Act, known as Proposition 69, was passed on November 2, 2004 (BFS, 2004). The Act is a controversial law that intrudes on individuals civil liberties (ACLU, 2004). Proposition 69 expands the criminal DNA databases and is unconstitutional (ACLU, 2004).

According to Maya Harris (ACLU, 2004, par. 5), the ACLU attorney and director of the Racial Justice Project, Law enforcement should not be allowed to seize that personal and private information when you havent even been charged with a crime. The state of California approved the DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime, and Innocence Protection Act, hoping to advance unsolved crimes through DNA samples. Proposition 69 dangerously expands criminal databases in that it threatens social justices and civil liberties, while offering few benefits in ensuring safety to citizens (Simoncelli & Steinhardt, 2006).

The Act goes against the American Constitution that allows citizens to be innocent until proven guilty (ACLU, 2004). Persons opposing Proposition 69 state the adversarial justice the Act displays through collecting DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony crime and before proven guilty is unconstitutional.

To illustrate, a victim of identity theft for 12 years, Rodney Ware, was arrested for a felony crime some other person committed under his name. At present, Mr. Wares DNA is part of the criminal database, despite being proven not guilty (ACLU, 2004). Thousands of innocent people are arrested each year, yet are never convicted of a crime (ACLU, 2004). Charges are dropped, dismissed, or acquitted at trial, yet through Proposition 69, their DNA samples are in the criminal databases in the state of California (ACLU, 2004).

On December 7, 2004, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit through the United States District Court in San Francisco to the State of California, against Proposition 69. The ACLU wants the federal court to protect citizens fundamental rights, to be secure from unconstitutional police searches, and to privacy in genetic, medical, and personal information (ACLU, 2004). The lawsuit claims Proposition 69 is unconstitutional (ACLU, 2004).

Persons who are arrested for felonies yet found innocent do have the right to appeal Proposition 69 and have his or her DNA record expunged from the criminal database. However, the process is arduous. First, the individual must find a judge who is willing to accept the case. Second, the prosecuting attorney has the right to deny the appeal. Finally, if the appeal is denied, the individual may not re-open the case (ACLU, 2004).

Before Proposition 69, the state of California law mandated that any individual convicted of a violent and serious felony crime, would have to give DNA samples for a statewide database. After Proposition 69 was enacted, any individual arrested and not yet convicted would become part of the criminal databases (ACLU, 2004). Many people who are now part of the criminal database are victims of identity theft, victims of police misconduct, lawful medical marijuana users, and political protestors (ACLU, 2004).

Prior to Proposition 69, the state of California law mandated any individual convicted of a violent or serious felony charge, would have to give DNA samples for a statewide database.

Proposition 69 is a serious threat to civil liberties and is unconstitutional (Simoncelli et al, 2006). The Act mandates the sharing of DNA samples with law enforcement agencies and private laboratories globally and nationwide. The Act reveals intimate information concerning individuals health, mentality, and predisposition (Simoncelli et al, 2006). Many are in question why law enforcement should be able to acquire such personal information from individuals, at such monetary and personal expense, when the expansion in the criminal database really does not help solve crimes more effectively (ACLU, 2004).
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