Committee approves DNA testing for everyone arrested

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee Friday recommended passage of a bill that would require every person arrested - from misdemeanors to felonies - to submit to DNA testing.

Assembly Bill 552 by Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, attempts to avoid legal challenges by directing that those tests and all documentation accompanying them be destroyed and removed from evidence unless the person is actually convicted of a crime.

She said the legislation, prompted by the murder of Brianna Dennison in Reno, directs that the DNA tests not be uploaded into the federal database system until charges are actually filed against the person.

Rebecca Gasca, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said she seriously doubts any of those tests will ever be destroyed once loaded into the federal database.

"The state can't demand of the federal government that it expunge those records," Gasca said. "It's a federal system the state doesn't control."

She said the vote was disappointing because of the legal issues mandatory testing raises. Opponents have charged that the bill would violate a person's Fifth Amendment rights.

"We believe ongoing legal challenges to similar legislation around the nation are a reason to hold off," Gasca said. "We believe this is an issue that will be decided by the Supreme Court."

The bill was amended before being voted out of the committee to reduce the administrative assessment added, basically, to every traffic ticket issued in the state to $2.50.

It goes to the floor of the Assembly for a vote.

The committee also approved Assembly Bill 528, which would transfer some funding collected through the medical marijuana licensing to the Mental Health and Disabled Services and Health divisions to support alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs.


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