Oklahoma Senator Says His Bill Could Unfairly Target Minorities


Wednesday, April 17th 2019, 6:59 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck


Democrats in the state legislature are urging the governor to veto a bill that, they say, could unfairly target minorities. The Republican author of the bill agrees it could. 

A law passed in 2016 allows jails to collect DNA samples when someone is arrested for a felony.

A new bill would allow third party contractors to also collect DNA and use relatively new technology to get faster results.

Bill author Senator Wayne Shaw (R) Grove says by using the so-called “Rapid DNA”, technology police could potentially tie suspects to other crimes.

In 2017, President Trump signed federal legislation to let the FBI develop rules for the program. States like Oklahoma must pass legislation allowing it. Opponents say this violates due process.

“That’s an invasion of privacy and it’s against the constitution. It’s unconstitutional. When a person is arrested, that does not mean that that person is guilty,” said Representative Jason Lowe (D) Oklahoma City.

Senator Shaw replied, “The Supreme Court said this is basically the same, it was no more invasive than taking fingerprints.”

And, opponents argue, because the Rapid DNA technology will be used in more urban areas, it unfairly targets minorities.

“Black folks and brown folks in particular would be unfairly targeted,” said Representative Regina Goodwin (D) Tulsa. “Black folks are five times more likely to be victims of excessive force, two times more likely to be arrested as opposed to their white counterparts.”

News 9 asked Senator Shaw about that.

“That argument can be made about anything we do,” said Shaw. “Do we unfairly target minorities? That’s, that’s a possibility.”

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