Lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, entertainment, the arts, and more.
Hosted by Larry Mantle
Airs Weekdays 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

California’s DNA collection process goes on trial

Is the collection of DNA unconstitutional?
Is the collection of DNA unconstitutional?
Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

Listen to story

Download this story 6.0MB

Proponents of warrantless swabbing of the cheek with a Q-tip call it an integral part of the justice process, but critics say it is nothing more than the 21st Century’s equivalent of fingerprints. But on Wednesday, the ACLU will make the argument before a federal appellate court in San Francisco that the DNA collection is unconstitutional.

The ACLU specifically takes issue with the cheek swab of those arrested for a felony before they are convicted. Critics are not challenging the collection of samples taken from convicted felons, just those sampled before convicted. They claim that it comes too early in the justice process, that Americans are innocent until proven guilty and that it provides the government lifetime genetic surveillance.

The law went into effect in 2009 and California law enforcement officials are currently collecting 11,000 samples a month.


Michael Risher, ACLU staff attorney; lead attorney Haskell v. Harris

Anne Marie Schubert, Sacramento County Supervising Deputy District Attorney who helped write an amicus brief on behalf of California DA’s Association