Lawsuit Seeks to Nullify California DNA Initiative

Individuals are required to submit their address and have their photograph and fingerprints taken when they are arrested, but according to a lawsuit filed in California, the collection of personal information should stop at the submission of DNA samples.

"The Fourth Amendment (search) protects all persons here from unreasonable searches and seizures," said David Cruz, a professor of law at the University of Southern California.

On Election Day last month, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 69 (search), which allows police to collect DNA from anyone arrested for a felony. That includes tens of thousands of people who are arrested but never charged or convicted of a crime.

"There's just a great deal of information, and Prop. 69 not only allows you to get this information from a person by swabbing inside their mouth, but also if the California Department of Justice says so, by taking blood samples," Cruz said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (search) has filed a suit to prevent the initiative from being enacted. A hearing is expected next month. But California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (search) said he believes the proposition will hold up in court.

"When the courts rule, that makes it the law, and courts have authorized mug shots, fingerprints and so on — and it's the same thing," Lockyer said.

Currently, 46 states require convicted violent felons to submit DNA samples. Only three states, Virginia, Texas and Louisiana, take DNA from innocent people arrested or cleared of a crime.

Lockyer said the gain in public safety is worth the loss of privacy because DNA sampling not only solves old crimes, but prevents new ones.

"There's probably 1,000 to 2,000 of those every day that are released from jail or prison that we want to make sure that we've got the DNA sample before they are back on the streets," he said.

Under the new law, the first to get swabbed will be inmates in California prisons followed by parolees and individuals on probation. The collection of DNA should increase the state's database from 200,000 to more than 1 million samples. Police say they expect the database will prevent new crimes because the state has a 70 percent recidivism rate among convicted criminals and the samples could act as a deterrent.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' William La Jeunesse.