Saturday, August 13, 2022

NJ Police Used Baby DNA to Investigate Crimes, Claims in Lawsuits

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New Jersey police may have used blood samples from babies to investigate crimes, public defenders in the state said.

According to an lawsuit filed by the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (OPD), the practice came to light after a case in which the New Jersey state police successfully subpoenaed a testing lab for a blood sample from a child. Police then performed DNA analysis on the blood sample that allegedly linked the child’s father to a crime committed more than 25 years ago.

The suspect then became a client of the OPD, who briefed the office on techniques to identify the man. The lawsuit, jointly filed by the OPD and the New Jersey monitoris now trying to force the state of New Jersey to release information about the full extent of the practice.

All babies born in the state of New Jersey must have a blood sample taken within 48 hours as part of a mandatory test program who screens them for 60 different conditions. These samples are processed in a state-run lab, which shares data with the state health authority and relays the results to parents.

The blood samples are not shared directly with law enforcement agencies. But if the police are able to reliably obtain the samples through a subpoena, then the disease screening process basically enters all babies born in the state into a DNA database with no option to opt out.

According to the lawsuit, parents and the general public are not aware that blood samples from their children can be used in this way.

“The New Jersey Monitor believes that the public would be shocked by what happened in OPD’s client’s case and that law enforcement agencies are circumventing the warrant’s requirements in this way,” reads part of the lawsuit. “It also believes that parents, in particular, would be shocked to learn that their children’s blood samples have been held by the Ministry of Health for more than 20 years and that they are being consulted by law enforcement agencies without their knowledge or consent so that their DNA can be traced. analyzed.”

Per report in the New Jersey monitorprior to trial, requests for public records filed by the Monitor and the Public Defender’s Office seeking information about subpoenas to the lab that conducts the disease screenings were denied by the state.

The New Jersey state police had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

In the US, laws for collecting DNA vary greatly from state to state. While states require a person to be charged with a crime before their DNA can be collected, or for a judge to make a decision to take a sample from a suspect, other states allow this to happen when an arrest is made. Laws about how long monsters can be held also vary: some states require them to be expunged if no criminal charges are brought within a certain time, but others – including New York — have been criticized for preserving the DNA of people who have never been charged.

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