xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Let familial DNA databases be available to help fight crime

DNA databases can help find long lost relatives or solve crime but they raise privacy issues.
DNA databases can help find long lost relatives or solve crime but they raise privacy issues. (Evgeniy Salov/TNS)

Del. Charles Snydor can't have it both ways. His bill in the Maryland House of Delegates seeks to prohibit using familial DNA databases to solve crime (“Maryland House bill seeks to prohibit using familial DNA databases to solve crime,” Feb. 20).

Mr. Snydor says that he wants violent crimes to be solved, but that using partial DNA matches from relatives violates a person's constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure, often referred to as the right to privacy.

Advertisement

Here in Maryland, and especially in Baltimore, we have a serious problem with violent crime. Increasing the chance that violent crimes will actually be solved by the police will reduce violent crimes by both making people think twice before committing a violent crime and by getting them off the street sooner if they go ahead and commit the crime anyway.

There's no downside to preventing or solving violent crimes. If the police go after the wrong relative, the suspect will be exonerated by his or her own DNA unless the crime was committed by the suspect's identical twin. The only difference between catching a criminal based on fingerprints or security cameras and catching him by public DNA data is that the public DNA data is given by relatives, not by the criminal himself.

Advertisement
Advertisement

But sometimes it takes a relative to catch an elusive criminal. The Unabomber was caught only when he published his manifesto and his brother figured out who he was and told the police. Would Mr. Snydor have wanted the police to refrain from access to the brother's testimony because the Unabomber had a right to privacy?

People have been found innocent after long incarcerations by means of DNA. Let's use DNA in all the ways that it can be used here in the 21st century to catch violent criminals.

Henry Farkas, Pikesville

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement