Bills before the South Carolina legislature this year will, if passed, overhaul DUI law, crack down on underage drinking, and stiffen penalties for gang-related crimes. Perhaps most significantly, though, the South Carolina legislature will consider a bill that would make South Carolina the most aggressive in the nation in the collection of DNA information.
The expanded use of DNA databases has raised controversy across the country, as various legislatures and law enforcement agencies attempt to balance privacy rights against the ability to solve crimes more quickly and accurately. Thus far, courts have erred on the side of public safety, even to the extent of allowing the use of the DNA of relatives to identify a suspect. This will undoubtedly continue to be a hotly debated issue across the country. If the South Carolina bill becomes law, it will make the state the first in the country to require a DNA sample from every arrestee, regardless of the nature or seriousness of his crime.