June 4, 2013
Contact: Kath Cummins, 202.590.0837, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fewer rapists, murderers, and other violent criminals are likely to remain on the streets after yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in Maryland v. King, which authorizes police to take DNA samples from people arrested for serious crimes. The ruling upholds law enforcement’s use of a powerful crime-fighting tool and clears a path to justice for countless victims of crime.
“This ruling will help make violent criminals accountable,” said National Center for Victims of Crime Executive Director Mai Fernandez. “In so many cases, rapists and murderers are repeatedly arrested—often for less serious crimes—and released to harm more victims. But collecting DNA from those charged with serious crimes will produce more ‘cold hits,’ as in the King case, resulting in fewer rapists on the street and fewer future violent crimes.”
The case originated in Maryland, where Alonso Jay King, Jr., was arrested for assault in 2009. The police took a DNA sample from King and submitted the evidence to a state database, resulting in a “cold hit” match with evidence from an unsolved 2003 rape. King was tried and convicted of that rape on the basis of the DNA evidence. The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned the conviction on the grounds that the search had violated King’s Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable, warrantless searches. The Supreme Court then took the case and ruled that the search was reasonable.
The Supreme Court’s ruling (as argued by the majority) holds that collecting DNA evidence is no more intrusive than taking fingerprints or photographs, and the collection procedure (buccal swabbing) is painless and minimally invasive. The unparalleled accuracy of DNA precisely identifies perpetrators and helps solve and prevent violent crime.
As part of our effort to maximize the potential of DNA technology to solve and prevent crime, the National Center for Victims of Crime has long supported using properly collected DNA samples from arrestees as evidence, as well as thorough training of all professionals who use forensic DNA. Extensive information about forensic DNA for victims, victim service providers, and the public is available at the National Center’s DNA Resource Center.
The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led this nation’s struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives.