Half oppose DNA sampling by police

June 05, 2013, 6:40 PM GMT+0

Half of Americans are against taking DNA samples from arrested people without first getting a court warrant.

The Supreme Court recently rejected a challenge to the police practice of taking DNA samples from people suspected of commiting serious crimes. In some parts of the country DNA samples are only taken after a court has issued a warrant ordering a DNA sample to be taken. The court did not, however, approve the move as an anti-crime measure but rather as a way of identifying people in custody.

The latest YouGov research shows that half of Americans are against taking DNA samples from people who have been arrested, in contradiction to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision. Only 34% think that it is acceptable for DNA samples to be taken.

The Supreme Court determined that taking DNA should be viewed as being the same as taking fingerprints. When asked whether it is acceptable for fingerprints to be taken from people who have been arrested, attitudes change. 62% say that it is acceptable to take fingerprints, while 26% think that it is not. Interestingly there is a notable partisan divide, with 55% of Democrats supporting fingerprinting compared to 75% of Republicans.

Opponents of taking DNA samples without a warrant say that it violates the 4th Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches, while proponents say that it is a major way to catch criminals and solve cold cases.

Complete results are available here.

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