Session: 2023-2024

ACLU-PA Position: Opposes

Pennsylvania currently collects DNA samples from people convicted of hundreds of different crimes. SB 988 (PN 1776) would expand DNA collection to require anyone arrested for one of those offenses, many of which are non-violent crimes, to submit a DNA sample to police—including samples from juveniles. 

SB 988 proposes a massive expansion of genetic surveillance—seizing DNA from people who are presumed innocent under the law, turning them into permanent suspects. 

Authorizing law enforcement to accumulate genetic data from people without a warrant flies in the face of our most foundational constitutional principles. People who have been arrested but not convicted are innocent until proven guilty. They have the right to due process of law. They have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. They have a reasonable expectation of privacy. And when it comes to privacy, there isn’t anything more personal than our genetic information.

DNA is not the same as a fingerprint. It contains your genetic code, which reveals the most intimate, private information about you and your family. It is not the kind of data the government should be cavalierly compiling and indefinitely storing.

And since Black and brown people are overpoliced and disproportionately arrested, mass DNA collection will put communities of color under heightened genetic surveillance.

Finally, pre-conviction DNA collection is not only costly, but would overwhelm Pennsylvania’s forensic DNA caseload and add to existing backlogs—hardly a plan to bring “closure to victims” or keep Pennsylvanians safer.

Check's the bill's status here.


Senator Frank Farry



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