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February 5th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Good idea to collect DNA from shoplifting suspects?

ALT TEXT

Washington State is considering a bill that would require DNA samples from shoplifting suspects. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Suspects in Washington State arrested for crimes like shoplifting or driving with a suspended license might soon be forced to give a DNA sample.

The state is considering a bill that would require these samples before the suspect is even charged with a crime. More than a dozen states already allow this - and two others are considering similar proposals.

Under Washington's bill, anyone arrested for a gross misdemeanor or felony would be forced to give a DNA sample. It would be stored at the state crime lab and destroyed if no charges were filed or the person was found not guilty.

Supporters say collecting DNA helps solve crimes – that it would make it easier for law enforcement to close cases and also to free those who have been falsely accused. One murder victim's mother praised the bill, saying DNA "helps us protect the innocent and catch the bad guys."

But Critics say the proposal enables unwarranted searches and would elevate those arrested for less serious crimes into the same category as violent convicts. Criminal defense groups and the ACLU are calling the bill unconstitutional – violating the right against unreasonable search and seizure.

It's estimated the program would cost $1 million over two years. And one lawmaker says although he likes the bill, he doesn't think now is the right time to pass it because of the state's money problems.

Here’s my question to you: Should states be allowed to collect DNA samples from suspects arrested for shoplifting?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Jim from North Carolina writes:
I do not believe that DNA samples should be collected from any citizen unless they have been "convicted" of a felony offense. Americans have a right to privacy and I believe DNA is a privacy issue.

Helena from Clearwater, Florida writes:
Everyone arrested for a crime, no matter how big or small, should submit their DNA. My hope is that DNA will be collected someday like fingerprints. It's a much better method of identification.

Theresa from Atlanta writes:
What happened to the Fourth Amendment as well as the right to be innocent until proven guilty? Anyone who thinks law enforcement will destroy the samples of the innocent is an idiot.

Bizz from Quarryville, Pennsylvania writes:
Jack, We live in a free society and it is very important that we keep it that way. Starting to swab everyone's mouth for DNA - from a kid stealing a candy bar to a charge of reckless driving - is no way for a democracy to keep its freedom. I feel anyone convicted of a felony, including a felony shoplifting charge, in a court of law should have their DNA on record just like fingerprints. We need to use all of tools we have available to catch criminals. But we have to be very careful that we do not walk all over the bill of rights to do it.

Eric writes:
Please say it ain’t so. The ACLU will oppose it of course because these criminals’ rights are being taken away. Heaven forbid we protect the public and actually do something that makes 100% sense. We don't want to offend anybody: criminals, terrorists, rapists, and pedophiles.

Judie from St. Augustine, Florida writes:
Jack, Why not just collect DNA samples from our entire population as part of the stimulus bill? Look at all the jobs it would create and then Big Brother would have a lot more information on us. Seriously, this has got to be a joke, right? I can see taking DNA samples on sex offenders, killers and people who commit violent crimes. But shoplifters? Please.

soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Holly, Albuquerque, NM

    DNA should be collected from anyone convicted of a crime.

    February 5, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  2. Jay in Nashville

    I don't know if shoplifting warrants a DNA specimen. I believe violent crimes do, so anyone convicted of (the key is conviction) rape, assault, homicide, and DUI’s should have samples taken. Career criminals, i.e. third conviction should also have samples taken. I believe the day is coming when the CSI crew finds a DNA specimen at a crime scene they will be able to tell if it is from a male or female, approximate race, and other identifying factors.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  3. erico 33129

    DNA should be collected on any individual AFTER they are Convicted or found guilty in a US Court of Law, be it Federal or CIvil.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  4. Tom Tx.

    No. Smacks of Brave New World .

    February 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  5. Tony from Torrington

    Do they collect fingerprints? Do they take mug shots? Why not a swab inside the cheek?

    February 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  6. Rose in Az

    No way, I think that goes way too far for shop lifiting. If they are caught in the act or on video tape that should be enough.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  7. Jenna Wade

    Should states be allowed to collect DNA samples from suspects arrested for shoplifting?

    If someone has been arrested, regardless of the crime, then yes DNA should be collected. There may be a chance of solving more than one crime at a time.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    February 5, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  8. Jack - Lancaster, OH

    Jack:

    No, DNA is not really justified for petty crime, if we prioritised would it not be better for therecent explosion in the crimes of nepotism?

    Jack

    February 5, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  9. Frank from Peterborough

    The problem with DNA is that it's effectiveness is only as good as the people taking it, categorizing it and matching it and if any of these latter three processes is corrupt then innocent people can be convicted or guilty people set free.

    My problem with this is there would be too many people undertaking this process greatly enhancing the probability for error which can lead to some real serious problems.

    Right now in Canada there have been over 50 people charged, some convicted and sentenced for murder of different children and it has now been discovered the coroner handling all these cases was incompetent and most of these people have been exonerated and let out of prison.

    My point being shoplifting being such a minor crime and cases requiring DNA samples far more serious crimes it just wouldn't seem to make sense.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  10. Allen L Wenger

    Yes and lets also collect DNA for anyone getting a traffic citation, any student being truant, and people who write bad checks. Let's collect DNA from anyone committing any crime and have a minimum jail sentance for each of them, too. We need to double or triple the number of people incarcerated, if we are going to create enough jobs to get us out of this depression. We won't need a stimulous package, if we can get enough people incarcerated.

    Allen
    Mountain Home ID

    February 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  11. Barbara - NC

    I'd like to say yes, but the way things are going I'm afraid a lot of us might be shoplifting food in the near future.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  12. Paul Austin,Texas

    Yes, because just sometimes that is not the only crime done by these people. It is not a bad thing to build a DNA data base that can be used to help track down the real bad one in the bunch. If you are not a real bad guy it should not bother you or anyone else.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  13. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    Only repeat offenders. Many teenagers go through this stage and can be convinced that it is not in their best interest to continue this behavior. If an offender repeats and this becomes a way of life for them, then yes collect DNA. Save these poor souls from themselves.

    February 5, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  14. mac from traverse city Michigan

    Of course Jack and they should take covert photos of people who attend the state sponsered constitution burning rallies as proud to be an american plays on the loudspeakers and the "authorities" check everyones "papers"!

    February 5, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  15. Judie from St. Augustine, Fl

    Jack,
    Why not just collect DNA samples from our entire population as part of the Stimulus Bill? Look at all the jobs it would create and then Big Brother would have a lot more information on us. Seriously, this has got to be a joke right? I can see taking DNA samples on sex offenders, killers and people who comit violent crimes but shoplifters.... please. Who is lobbying for this nonsense anyhow? Why not use the $1 million for food banks over two years? Makes more sense to me.
    Judie
    St. Augustine, Fl

    February 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  16. Diane, Barneveld, NY

    Why not make it mandatory at birth? It would fit right in with the ID card they want us to carry and the searches before anyone can board a plane. Isn't that part of being a democracy?

    February 5, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  17. Mandy, Birmingham, AL

    Here in Alabama it wouldn't matter. The labs are so many years behind, the folks arrested will be dead before the DNA is run.

    February 5, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  18. Grace

    Come on Jack – is this mess "real"?!!?! Shoplifting crimes don't need DNA to be solved – so what is the purpose to really collect DNA?

    I bet they will collect DNA from the urban malls where the shoplifters are likely to be children of color but the surburban malls where the shoplifters are likely to be White children will not have their fingerprints taken. Besides the monies could be better spent on prosocuting white collar criminals who do more damage like Madoff or checking into the tax returns of government officials – but I am sure they would put up a legal fight to not have their DNA on record.

    GJ
    Michigan

    February 5, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  19. Annie, Atlanta

    No, it's a violation. So is the law here in GA where we must be finger printed in order to enjoy the privilege of driving a car. I'm all for catching bad guys, but where do we draw the line? And what's the point of spending money to collect samples that will be destroyed? Or will they? Is the NSA lurking behind this bill somewhere?

    February 5, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  20. John in Santa Barbara, CA

    It is a good and useful database. Law abiding citizens need not apply.

    February 5, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  21. Doug - Dallas, TX

    Wow Jack, we sure wouldn't want to violate the rights of the people who broke the law and violated the rights of the people they stole from. You don't shoplift by accident and unless you're an idiot, you know you're driving on a suspended license.

    The law makes sense and I'm sure people wanted for other crimes would be caught as a result which would lower the costs on a net basis.

    February 5, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  22. Agnes from Scottsdale, AZ

    NO!!!! This would be a huge invasion of one's civil rights. Time to move to Australia!!

    February 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  23. Ray, Florida

    Why? Do you want to clone them Jack?

    February 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  24. Pugas-AZ

    Stored in the crime lab and destroyed if not needed. What a joke. I can't see where there could be proper control over this. Currenty our SSN, credit card data, etc. can be stolen or found in a pile ot trash, what next, DNA mopped up from the floor or traveling through law enforcement mail . Bad idea!

    February 5, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  25. Jackie in Dallas

    I'm normally about as radical as you can get about supporting the Bill of Rights, but this I'm unsure of.

    Better than a register for just criminals, perhaps we ought to have a national registry tied to our Social Security. That way a simple DNA test would help prevent identity theft. In cases of catastrophe, a national registry could help identify victims (there are still several hundred from Katrina who have never been identified). And forensic evidence at a crime scene could much more easily identify both victims and suspects.

    Probably too radical for neolithic conservatives to swallow, but it could also help prevent bogus voter registration - which they always blame when one of their candidates loses!

    February 5, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  26. Scott, Wichita

    Of course, Jack. It's no different than being fingerprinted. I would even gladly volunteer to have my DNA Profile on record in case I have to be identified in case of an accident.

    February 5, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  27. Civic Commentary

    First it was fingerprints, and they were collected if you were a criminal (or in the military–the rights are the same in both cases). Then the government started fingerprinting the kids for their protection.

    I haven't seen a decrease in the number of kidnappings since that deterrent went into effect, but the government does have a lot more information. If it needs more evidence, they can collect it. Someone isn't going to decide not to murder that guy, or rape that woman, because the government has their fingerprints. And violent crimes aren't going to be prevented by a stockpile of DNA. If you need it to prove guilt or innocence, fine. If you don't need my DNA, you can't have it.

    The next generation will protect the innocent with a microchip. Don't worry–the government won't activate it unless you're charged.

    If you believe the government is protecting you, I can get you a really good deal on this bridge in Brooklyn...

    February 5, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  28. vern-t anaheim,ca

    jack,i don't agree with collecting the dna from shoplifting suspects or other minor violations but do agree it should be collected from suspects accused of major felonies.dna does help to solve major crimes ,even cold case ones and also has freed people falsely accused.i rarely seldom agree with the aclu about anything but this bill may be unconstitutional but we must leave it to the courts to decide.i have read your book"it's bgetting ugly out there"and enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to reading your new book "now or never" and have already placed my order for it.i'm sure it will be just as interesting and informative as your previous book

    February 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  29. Daniel, Indiana

    No. That is an invasion of privacy. What will be next? A law to implant chips in people so they may be tracked wherever they go?

    February 5, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  30. Jeff in Minnesota

    Let's just get it over with. When you're born, they collect your DNA for later use. The rest of us can just get a sample taken the next time we're in the doctor's office. That way everyone has their DNA on file. I wonder if the ACLU will buy into that approach?

    February 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  31. Susan from Idaho

    Is shoplifting a genetic problem? If not just just take their pictures and fingerprints. From the sounds of policing or lack there of we might be down to a sheriff and a few deputies.

    February 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  32. Kellie, PA

    So a sample of your DNA could be taken if you're caught driving with a suspended license? That's about 20% of drivers on the road by my estimation! Don't we have better things to do with tax dollars like feed the hungry or something!

    February 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  33. Joe in MO

    I have mixed feelings about this, Jack. How many of your listeners can look back and remember a time when, as a kid, they stole something from a store? They may have only done it once, and they may not have gotten caught. But if you were their parents and they did happen to be caught, would you want them to have to provide DNA. Maybe we should take DNA on the third offense.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  34. tom in madison, wisconsin

    Ya, sure! And then there the folks spitting on the side walk, get them too!!

    WAKE UP FOLKS WE GOT REAL PROBLEMS! We don't take care of the big ones all the petty ones will not matter for anything.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  35. Hubert Bertrand

    If it will help our police force do a better job, I'm for it. But guilty people will vote (NO). Some how they always win.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  36. Kevin L. / Omaha, NE

    Shoplifting? No! If convicted for a gross misdemeanor or felony then yes. That "it would be stored at the state crime lab and destroyed if no charges were filed" is BS. Once they have it, they have it.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  37. Donna Colorado Springs,Co

    No. Remember how scared we all were when we read "1984"? too much government interference back then was as bad as it would be now. DNA from shoplifters? That's a little over the top for me. Now, if said shoplifter was a sexual predator, then of course they should get DNA from that person.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  38. Alan-Buxton, Maine

    Law enforcement should be allowed to collect evidence from any lawbreaker including DNA. The main problem is that there are hundreds of thousands of DNA samples waiting for processing already and adding more will not likely be of much help.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  39. JW in Atlanta

    George Orwell, you must be laughing right out loud in the box you're buried in. We're moved so far over the big brother line these days, I'd totally believe in a talking pig.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  40. Jeff Crocket

    For a child with a candy bar No!

    For an adult with major dollar thievery? Yes!

    February 5, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  41. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    again this is a question of balance. DNA for shoplifters if a violent crime, with or without the use of weapons, is committed towards a person.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  42. jack frost

    Collecting DNA from low level perps like shoplifters like overkill to me.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  43. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    George Orwell was a prophet.

    February 5, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  44. Pat in Greensboro

    If it creates more jobs - now the measurement by which all ideas will be considered.

    February 5, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  45. Ron Hill

    No. While shoplifting should have its punishments, DNA collection should not be part of it. What's next, brain scans if you spit on the sidewalk? Just contact the NSA since they already have much on citizens. What's that document called- Bill of Rights?

    Ron in Ohio

    February 5, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  46. Sanjay, Clarendon Hills IL

    If they are going to destroy the sample if no charges are filed, or the person is found not guilty, I do not see how this constitutes a violation of privacy. Entering most large stores now means you are captured on camera – a far more egregious invasion of privacy.

    February 5, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  47. Christine, Edmeston NY

    There was a time when the concept of fingerprinting was shuddered at by those protesting its high-tech invasion of a person's person. Today people think nothing of having their young children fingerprinted as a security measure. DNA is such a valuable source of identification, it should be acquired from everyone at birth. Once again, the ACLU can't see the forest for the trees.

    February 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  48. Leah in New York

    Federal and state authorities don't even use the DNA they have now properly, to exonerate the falsely imprisoned and track down the genuinely guilty. How can we trust them to hold, use and destroy the DNA of the multitudes merely arrested on minor charges having nothing to do with DNA? We might as well all just be required to turn over our samples at birth.

    February 5, 2009 at 5:36 pm |
  49. Deb I , Nauvoo, IL

    Sorry to be such an old grump, but the time has come for DNA testing to be registered at birth. Think of it as part of the stimulus package,more training and laboratory jobs for us science nerds. Most crimes are committed by the same people, who are committing crimes over and over. It can't hurt to start catching career criminals as they commit their first crimes. SO now, if you shop lift, you will have to really be careful when you murder or assault someone. A little extra fear can't hurt if it serves as a deterrent.

    February 5, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  50. Cori

    No, the government will use it for evil.

    February 5, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  51. Sophie, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

    Jack,
    I don't think it is asking too much. This would ensure the safety of all citizens. I am actually looking forward to a time when the DNA, foot print and finger print will be taken at birth. If one does nothing wrong, one has nothing to fear!

    February 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  52. JayW in Austin

    I think this obviously violates the 5th amendment, but the most frightening aspect to this is that it's implying a person is guilty until they prove themselves innocent. Maybe–a big maybe–a person should be required to give DNA AFTER convicted, but never before.

    February 5, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  53. Mike, FL

    Jack,

    Why not, we have no privacy anyway!

    Well at least we wouldnt need any paperwork anymore, just put your finger on a pad, it samples your DNA, and makes sure you are who you are suppose to be. Now I watched a Movie like this once!! Wished I could remember the name of it.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  54. Cate

    You've got to be kidding me Jack. Since when did driving with a suspended license make you as bad as a murderer? Not to mention, now is not the time to spend money on frivolousness, which is what this is.

    Cate

    Florissant, Missouri

    February 5, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  55. Michael

    Wouldn't it just be cheaper to do it AFTER they've been convicted?

    February 5, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  56. Matthew Robinson, Asheville, NC

    If this does occur, it must only occur after a conviction, and as part of, not an addition to, the punishment for the crime.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  57. Marcus Toronto

    Sure,if they're shoplifting a shotgun.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  58. Dennis, Los Angeles

    Of course not, this is a violation of civil rights and it is this mentality that is turning this nation into a Big Brother state. What's next, chip implants on every man, woman, and child?

    February 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  59. Kent Lanning

    Of course. If you break the law you lose the right of privacy.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  60. Chuck Brightbill

    Yes! You broke the law, now chew on this swab! You're a crook, you should be treated like one!

    February 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  61. James

    Absolutely not. Shoplifting is a petty crime. Any further move towards a Nineteen Eighty-Four-like police state is one that we do not need.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  62. Elizabeth, Sidney, NY

    I'm torn on this one–it seems terribly invasive, somehow, of one's privacy. Maybe a step too far toward Big Brotherism? And the cost of the program seems out of proportion to its benefits.

    On the other hand, anything that helps separate the innocent from the guilty is probably a good thing. And so many of these types of crime seem to be repeated the minute the perpetrator is out of custody.

    Tough call.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  63. Jon in Louisville, Ky

    Jack although i think it is a violation of our 4th amendment rights, if you dont break the law you shouldnt have anyhting to worry about. Its when they try to make us submit DNA for speeding that were in trouble.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  64. John, in west seattle

    Sure Why not, perhaps soon they will have a little chip that they can put into us that will alert them anytime we do something wrong.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  65. Viban

    Jack, Simply NO, NO, NO.
    When are there going to put a video camera in my bed room?

    February 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  66. Patrick

    This just sounds like a bad idea. Who's to say that the collected DNA couldn't be used for nefarious purposes?

    February 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  67. Gaurang (Ahmedabad, India)

    $1 million over two years seems small these days. Sure. Why not?

    February 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  68. Bruce from Delaware

    NO. Absolutely not! It is demeaning to the person, a violation of basic human right to privacy and a blatant violation of the Constitution. If you must record DNA on anyone, then get the DNA of all the Senators and Representatives, then check their tax records and send them all to prison. Preferably Gitmo!

    February 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  69. Bruce Schreiber

    Why not? They get fingerprinted upon arrest, don't they? DNA is really just an an expansion on that. Of course, the ACLU will argue that it is too invasive. Hey, this is 2009... a simple cheek swab will do the job... surgery is not necessary.

    Danbury, CT

    February 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  70. G. Raggio

    We collect fingerprints of suspects all the time... they are as compelling as DNA for evidence... DNA is another kind of "finger print" if you will.

    G. Raggio

    February 5, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  71. Dave from Jersey

    Jack,
    I think collecting the DNA from shoplifters might be a bit extreme, Misdemeanors may not warrant it; however I think anybody that has been accused of a felony should have to submit a sample. It might be a bit messy with the ACLU, but it will circumvent beauracracy in the recitivist future.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  72. Daniel Ely Rankin

    Absolutely. Data is power. Abuse of data is evil, so there has to be strict limitations. It is not unreasonable to prick a finger. The data should be as secure as ultimately possible, but, just the possibility of clearing the innocent by quickly pinpointing the guilty is worth it. Let alone the potential to stop a sexual offender if they have had a less than perfect civil past. Imagine getting a hit on a pedophile on their first offense instead of having to piece together multiple cases. Maybe I watch too many crime shows, but yes-100%, control it, but track it.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  73. don r.

    whats another constitutional right......its just a piece a paper......lets keep track of everyone by wiretapping video cameras, dna sampling....when do i get my chip implanted?

    February 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  74. Enid Pinnegar

    don't be fooled into thinking that DNA will be destroyed. That is what the authorities said here in the UK. Even if you only report a crime here your DNA is taken & kept. There are thousands of DNA samples taken from children which are still in the system

    February 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  75. Chris in Seattle

    Yes, as long as it is a gross misdemeanor or felony. If you are worried about being caught for other crimes, quit your life of crime.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  76. Hey Jack,

    Grand Identity Theft, hear we come!!
    McLean
    PA

    February 5, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  77. gale

    no not a good idea to take DNA from shoplifting suspects . take it from those comitting a more serious crime ex, rape, murder...

    February 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  78. April

    This is a horrible idea. What is happening to privacy? DNA is another way for big brother to track our every moves. I hope the ACLU pulls through on this one.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  79. Steve S

    The United States already requires foreign visitors to submit fingerprints upon entry to the country and now the state of Washington wants to collect DNA just because you were arrested? I can see it now, in a few years, this will go nation wide. Then a few years after that, it will become mandatory for all citizens to have DNA on file with the government even though they are not even arrested. The government, both state and federal, lately seem to think that following the Constitution does not apply to them.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  80. Jason Fincher

    Jack, I’m a criminal justice major in my junior year at the University of New Haven. I’ve learned a lot about our CJ system and I have also worked in several jobs where shoplifting was a problem. But the odds of finding good DNA evidence are not as accurate as the dedicated viewers of CSI: Miami think. What are they going to do? Look for hair, skin, and saliva samples whenever there’s a T-shirt missing from Abercrombie & Fitch? Do they know how much of that stuff is in stores already? People, stop getting your legal education from prime-time television.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  81. Leone Baum

    Hempstead, Long Island, New York

    I would put collecting dna for shoplifting right after collecting dna for tax evasion.

    We have a few recent candidates for testing out the system.

    Lee

    February 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  82. Noah Chenhalls

    For petty theft, the government will own your DNA? It's understandable to take a finger print. It's debatable to take a retinal scan. But it is abhorrent to think that state would have the right to own your genetic makeup. Let's make no mistake, it is clear. This is a stepping stone to requiring EVERYONE to relinquish their DNA, to help build a society where everyone is guilty until proven "authorized". This will have implications in hiring, traveling, banking, purchasing, and so on. The government doesn't just want order. They don't just want your money. They want your soul.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  83. NANCY , Grand Ledge MI

    Be careful Jack, Big Brother is watching you! They can arrest any one of us anytime they want to. That doesn't make the person guilty. If this is allowed, they could arrest someone on trumped up charges, just because they want their DNA. It violates our rights. If someone is convicted, they lose many of their rights, so wait until after a conviction.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  84. Tyler

    Jack,
    With no lessons learned it seems to me that George Orwell's "1984" has transformed over the last 60 years from a sci-fi cautionary tale to prophecy.
    Tyler
    Montreal

    February 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  85. Terry, Hoover, AL

    If smoking pot leads one to take "harder" drugs, shoplifting leads one to more serious crime. Take the DNA samples.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  86. Viban

    When is that new Implan chip coming, so that I can be monitored and identified by any satelite.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  87. Loretta

    If fingerprints and DNA were taken at birth, perhaps would-be felons and murderers would think twice before committing a crime or murder.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  88. Chad

    from sioux city iowa i have been in trouble alot about eight years ago and the states are too controlling they are trying to take away everybodys rights and bank off the wrongdoer and i think that dna sampling for crimes is not right they are just spending more money that they dont have and trying to make up for it with money from fines

    February 5, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  89. Theo DiPassional

    Oh yeah, agencies that can't even get the backlog of dna samples from rape perpetrators cleared can really relied on to make destroy dna samples from some poor schmuck whose been arrested for, and may not even be guilty of, shoplifting. This is another example of nincompoops who think government agencies give priority to anything that isn't going to bring them money or glory.
    Theodora
    Los Angeles

    February 5, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  90. Malone

    The real question is whether someone caught shoplifting is likely to commit a more serious crime. Should we take the DNA of those caught unlawfully downloading movies and mp3s on the internet? How about from J walkers?

    We may think it's a bad idea Jack, but in this information age, "they" will get it n way or another. Resistance if futile.

    St.Lucia

    February 5, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  91. Ann Anderson

    Jack–we watch you all the time and really appreciate your approach to vital issues, as well as your sense of humor. Perhaps laws that collect DNA for shoplifting go too far, but here in New Mexico our law applies to major crimes. As soon as it became law, a rapist and murderer who was still on the streets was caught and brought to justice. I think it's great–just the modern equivalent of fingerprinting. Let's give victims every chance against the criminals.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  92. Doug from Highland Park, Il

    I'm trying to understand how drawing a shoplifting suspect's DNA "elevates those arrested for less serious crimes into the same category as violent convicts" other than the fact of having their DNA checked. Shoplifters are often drug users who are also involved in other criminal activity. Checking DNA at their arrest may facilitate the solving of other crimes. It is the new version of fingerprinting.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  93. newt

    no i live in washington and i am firmly against this whole idea of collecting dna this way

    February 5, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  94. Michael

    Absolutely yes !
    It causes zero harm to anybody and the benefits for our society are huge .

    February 5, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  95. Lori, Dayton,Ohio

    You should only fingerprint and take mug shots AFTER you have been charged-why would they need to get DNA BEFORE you have been charged? And since when do you need DNA to solve a shoplifting crime?
    Sounds to me like they are trying to get a database of DNA assuming that these shoplifters will eventually do something worse.
    With all the "Mistakes" made anymore in handling evidence, what happens if this DNA is used later on to charge someone with a worse crime inaccurately? Wouldn't this seriously overwhelm the labs also?
    DNA for serious crimes only, not misdemeanors.
    Too Big Brother!

    February 5, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  96. George Vathally (North Andover, Ma.)

    Jack, That would put us on a very slippery slope...Are we then to expect collecting DNA samples from speeders or J-walkers? Then why don't we just DNA everybody and be done with it !

    February 5, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  97. Susan Smith

    Dear Jack:

    I don't want to insult anyone but do the officials in Washington State realize that there is no money left in the piggybank? And they want to spend money making sure people who steal stuff don't get away with it? Would it depend on how much they steal?...say under $200.00, you're okay, otherwise we want your blood?

    The idea of a "Police State" doesn't even need to be said.....this is just plain stupid.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  98. Charles

    Just watch the news. People of color are detained or arrested far more often, as have I. That I am a physician means nothing to police. And are you naieve enough to believe that this information will be discarded if the people cannot afford an attorney or can afford to wait 2 years for the case to be thrown out?

    February 5, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  99. Daniel, Budapest, Hungary

    Sometimes I feel that here, in Europe criminal's personality rights are much more protected, than the victim's. But I am afraid the US veers round, and former home of Freedom tends to be the home of the Big Brother. Do not let Gattaca to come alive.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  100. Eliana D. Alvarez-Donis

    what would be next? Minority Report for them too?We have a similar system with personal health history, where people have become uninsurable because their genes made them prone to different illneses .Being punished with higher cuotes because they have being born with the wrong genes. Now shoplifting still remains a stupid prank among teenagers in the eternal game of peer pressure, by that, all this people everytime a store gets robbed, their doors will be knocked by the police, making policing a nightmare, there would be never enough personal to cover that. They cannot do it with dangerous child abusers and rapist, and want to do it with simple shoplifters? if so, let the store owners raise the funds for the program, they would be the interested party anyway. Government money should be spent in better ways than that.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  101. JL

    It isn't any different than a national fingerprint database.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  102. Roland (St George, UT)

    I would think this might fall under the unreasonable search clause of the Bill of Rights. But aside from this, shouldn't the states be more concerned with spending every available dollar on more useful things like (1) recruiting and retaining more qualified law enforcement personnel, (2) paying them more of a fair/living wage, and (3) most importantly, spending more of their money on good schools and getting good teachers and paying them fairly? That's a bit idealistic, I realize, but It still seems wiser to spend the resources on preventing crime instead of solving it.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:47 pm |