In 2010, the ACLU-NC vigorously opposed HB 1403 Collect DNA Sample on Arrest, a bill that required the automatic taking of DNA on arrest without a warrant for a select list of felonies and misdemeanors. At the time, the ACLU-NC argued this was a slippery slope and that, while the list of felonies and misdemeanors for which DNA would be taken was limited now, it would expand. We had no idea that expansion would come so fast. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee B passed HB 483, a bill to vastly expand the list of felonies for which DNA must be taken on arrest. Despite unanswered questions about how the bill would be paid for and how many innocent North Carolinians it might impact, the bill was hurried through committee, but not before the bill sponsor, Representative Burr (R - Stanly) admitted that the goal was to start collecting DNA prior to conviction at the time of arrest for all crimes.
The fiscal costs of collecting DNA from every person arrested in the state may be a little more obvious (HB 1403 had an estimate price tag of approximately $11 million over 5 years), but the point was made in committee that there are other costs to a law like this. There is the cost to individual privacy and bodily integrity as, in order to collect DNA, a government official has to insert a swab into your body and scrape away some of your cells - cells that give the government access to information about thousands of genetic traits. There is also the cost to communities that already feel themselves targeted by the criminal justice system who will no doubt feel even more marginalized by this invasive search when they have their DNA taken before they've ever been convicted of a crime. However, this cost was disregarded by the majority of the committee who voted in favor of the bill. The bill was passed 8 to 5 with Representatives Bordsen, Bryant, Glazier, Haire, and Michaux voting against this vast expansion of the state DNA database. The bill now goes to the House floor for a vote.