Californians recently approved a measure to create one of the nation's most aggressive criminal DNA databases, but civil liberties groups and privacy advocates are fighting to get it scaled back.
Law enforcement officials say Proposition 69 will be a boon to solving a growing backlog of violent crime cases, but it also raises the possibility of innocent people getting trapped in the vast database along with murderers and rapists and having limited ability to get their file expunged.
The new law, officially called the DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act, is expected to add the genetic data of 1 million people to California's databank over the five years, making it the largest state-run DNA databank in the country.
The law, approved by 62 percent of the state's voters in the Nov. 2 election, allows police to take DNA samples from every adult and juvenile convicted of a felony and from all adults arrested for specific felonies such as sexual assault and murder. In 2009, the law will be broadened to enable police to gather DNA data from anyone arrested for any felony -- ranging from residential burglary to murder -- whether or not they are ever charged or convicted with a crime.