Collecting DNA at Arrest: Policies, Practices, and Implications, in 28 States, 2005-2012 (ICPSR 34682)

Principal Investigator(s): Samuels, Julie, The Urban Institute; Davies, Elizabeth, The Urban Institute; Pope, Dwight, The Urban Institute

Summary:

These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

This study examined arrestee DNA laws (laws that allowed testing of arrestees DNA pre-adjudication), their implementation in the field and their subsequent effects on agency operations as well as their success in aiding investigations in the 28 states that have these laws. The study investigated five specific questions:

  1. What states have passed legislation authorizing the collection of DNA from arrestees?
  2. How do the laws and policies regarding collecting DNA from arrestees differ by state?
  3. How have the courts ruled on these new laws?
  4. How have arrestee DNA laws been implemented in each state?
  5. What has been the impact of requiring DNA collection from arrestees on state crime laboratories and other involved agencies?
  6. What evidence is available to determine the effects of collecting DNA from arrestees on public safety or other criminal justice outcomes?

To answer these questions, researchers used a mixed methods data collection plan, including reviewing relevant statutes and case law, interviewing state and federal Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) laboratory staff and other forensic experts, and collecting descriptive data from state laboratories.

Access Notes

  • These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

Dataset(s)

Dataset - Download All Files (4.189 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Samuels, Julie, Elizabeth Davies, and Dwight Pope. Collecting DNA at Arrest: Policies, Practices, and Implications, in 28 States, 2005-2012. ICPSR34682-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-09-28. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34682.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34682.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2009-DN-BX-0004)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    arrest procedures, crime laboratories, databases, DNA testing, evidence, policy analysis

Smallest Geographic Unit:    State

Geographic Coverage:    Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia

Time Period:   

  • 1997--2011

Date of Collection:   

  • 2010--2012

Unit of Observation:    States, State DNA testing laboratories

Universe:    The twenty-eight states that had enacted statutes permitting the collection of DNA from individuals pre-adjudication.

Data Type(s):    administrative records data, aggregate data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

The compilation of states that have enacted statutes permitting the collection of DNA from individuals pre-adjudication includes all states that have enacted such laws even if they have since been overturned by the courts or withdrawn by state legislatures. It also includes states that have laws on the books even if they were not actively collecting arrestee DNA samples at the time of this report, either because they have not yet implemented the law or because they suspended collection due to budget constraints or legal challenges.

Methodology

Study Purpose:    The purpose of the study is to assess the effects and implications of DNA testing of arrestees pre-adjudication.

Study Design:   

This study involved a five step process of data collection and analysis.

Step 1-Compiling and reviewing relevant statutes: Researcher's assembled the complete set of state and federal DNA collection laws which illustrated that 28 states had enacted statues permitting the collection of DNA for individuals pre-adjudication. Having identified the states that currently or previously permitted the collection of arrestee DNA, researchers found current versions of arrestee DNA statutes for each state and uploaded those documents into NVivo (a software tool to assist in analyzing the information) for review and coding. Researchers then developed a coding scheme for determining similar themes in the laws.

Step 2-Case Law Review: Researchers conducted a systematic case law review to understand the character of the challenges and courts' reasoning in either upholding the laws or ruling them unconstitutional. To identify cases and to keep up to date with current changes to the laws, researchers conducted a keyword search in Westlaw and Google to assure any additional challenges to arrestee laws through July 2012 were recorded. Once researchers retrieved all relevant cases from this search process, they reviewed each opinion, identifying the following factors consistently for all cases: the law in question, the point of collection, the court reviewing the case, the date of review, the standard of review, legal reasoning (including individual privacy interests and government interests), and the decision reached.

Step 3 Interviews with Federal and State Laboratory Representatives: Researchers conducted 29 semi structured phone interviews with state laboratory leadership in 26 of the 28 states that have authorized collection of DNA at arrest. Additionally, researchers also spoke with the Federal DNA Database Unit. Respondents were recruited via email and phone, and received a one-page summary of researchers' interpretation of their state law and a list of sample interview questions (upon request) before the interview. States that had recently passed laws authorizing arrestee DNA collection were interviewed pre- and post-implementation to learn more about the process of preparing for implementation. The team uploaded interview notes to NVivo for review and coding. After reviewing each interview for key themes, researchers developed a coding scheme for the interviews which allowed the research team to identify themes across states.

Step 4 Data Analysis: To understand how arrestee DNA laws impact DNA databases, researchers requested National DNA Index System (NDIS) and State-based DNA index systems (SDIS) data from states that are currently collecting DNA at arrest as well as from the FBI Combined DNA index system (CODIS) Unit. The data request to CODIS administrators sought information about both cumulative data as of year-end 2011, as well as annual data two years prior to the year in which the arrestee law went into effect until year-end 2011. Twelve out of 23 states that were collecting DNA from arrestees at the time of the data collection period provided data. Additionally, the research team requested additional information from the FBI CODIS Unit, which supplied historical information about CODIS and the National DNA Index System (NDIS).

Step 5- State Profiles: Five states and the federal government were selected and profiled based on:

  1. Submission of data
  2. When they started DNA collection
  3. Qualifying offenses for data collection
  4. When DNA is collected and analyzed
  5. Expungement policy

Sample:    The twenty-eight states that enacted arrestee DNA laws were chosen as the focus of this project.

Time Method:    Longitudinal: Cohort/ Event-based

Mode of Data Collection:    record abstracts, telephone interview

Data Source:

National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) website.

Interviews with State CODIS laboratory leadership.

National DNA Index System (NDIS) data.

State-based DNA index systems (SDIS) data.

FBI Combined DNA index system (CODIS) Unit data retrieved from the FBI's CODIS website.

American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics (ASLME) website.

Westlaw website.

Description of Variables:   

This study contains four PDF files containing data.

  1. State-Provided_Data.pdf: This file contains data from state Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) laboratories in twelve states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee). The file contains annual data from two years prior to the year in which the arrestee law went into effect in each state until year-end 2011. The type of information collected from the laboratories include: year the state's law was enacted; offender profiles (total, convicted, arrestee) in state DNA index system (SIDS); total forensic profiles in SIDS; number of hits; number of investigations; whether dates are recorded for DNA collection; when DNA is received by the laboratory; when the profile was uploaded; date of hit to arrestee profile; date investigating agency was notified of hit; and the capabilities of the laboratory to calculate or assess numbers and hits.
  2. NDIS_Data_-.pdf: This file contains information retrieved from the FBI website containing National DNA Index System (NDIS) statistics. It contains data on all 50 states from 2008-2012. The data includes cumulative data on the number of offender profiles, forensic samples, CODIS labs, NDIS participating labs and investigations aided.
  3. InterviewSummaryMatrix.pdf: This file contains a summary of the 26 laboratory interviews conducted and describes the labs involvement in legislation, funding, the type of agency collecting the information, processing time, cost and specimen type.
  4. Coded_Arrestee_DNA_Laws.pdf: This file is a compilation of relevant state and federal DNA collection laws for the 28 states that permit the collection of DNA samples for individuals pre-adjudication. These statutes include such things as what is considered a qualifying offense or individual; whether juveniles are eligible for testing; who the collection agency is; collection activities including type of sample taken, fee for collection, collector liability, and whether reasonable force may be used; whether it is a violation of law to refuse testing; whether an honest mistake invalidates the evidence; who holds the responsibility of collection; expungement conditions; and other provisions such as reasons for the law, reporting or tracking requirements, ramifications of a misuse of sample, and funding.

Response Rates:    Interviews were conducted with 26 of the 28 states that have arrestee DNA laws. Twelve out of 23 states that were collecting DNA from arrestees at the time of the data collection responded with completed questionnaires.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:   2016-09-28

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