Law enforcement can collect and store DNA for felonies and serious misdemeanors in national databases, according to California state and federal law.
But in Orange County, prosecutors are currently running the nation’s only local genetic collection program that targets low-level misdemeanor crimes in exchange for dropping or reducing charges. The program started under OC’s former district attorney, Tony Rackaukas, and has been continued under DA Todd Spitzer.
However, UCI Law School professors and students have brought forth a lawsuit, alleging the program wastes taxpayer dollars, disproportionately affects low-income residents, and is not authorized by state law.
KCRW regular contributor Gustavo Arellano says 182,000 people have submitted their DNA to the program so far, and that Spitzer is approaching the program in the same way as his predecessor Rackaukas did. “Which is like, ‘Well, if you commit a misdemeanor, you're most likely one day probably going to commit a felony. And when you commit that felony, you might try to disappear. And at least now we have your DNA to be able to match it.’ It's really specious thinking, but hey, it's Orange County justice for you.”
On June 2, a judge from the Orange County Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit for technical reasons and gave the plaintiffs until June 28 to amend the complaint. "The complaint has been refiled."