More DNA Samples, More Debate
Travis Banks

Law-enforcement agencies in many places routinely take DNA samples from people convicted of murder and other violent crimes. But here in Orange County, officials also are taking samples from people charged with minor offenses such as shoplifting and drug possession, in exchange for agreeing to dismiss the charges or as part of plea deals.

The practice of taking the cheek-swab samples is voluntary, which partially sidesteps a national controversy over when law enforcement can require DNA samples. But it also has raised the ire of civil-rights advocates, who say the practice is coercive.

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