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ACLU Calls DNA Collection On Misdemeanors A 'Serious Privacy Invasion'

DENVER (CBS4) - A bill that would force people to submit to Colorado's DNA database -- even for some misdemeanors -- is being heard at the state Capitol.

"It's as simple as a cotton swab and actually easier than getting fingerprinted," said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver.

Pabon was willing to go the extra mile to build support for the bill expanding the DNA database on Tuesday. He even asked Republican House Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence to swab his DNA to show how easy it is, and to show there's no reason people convicted of serious misdemeanors shouldn't have to submit to it.

"The bottom line is DNA is a tool that works," Pabon said.

Pabon and Lawrence are sponsors of the bill that would require people convicted of misdemeanors like assault, theft and child abuse to provide DNA -- along with the felons who already do.

dna crime lab
(credit: CBS)

"Ninety percent of violent crimes we solve with DNA, women are victims of those crimes," Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said. "This is a science that helps us take the worst criminals off the streets of our community."

Morrissey said criminals such as Brent Brents, who raped two children and four women, including Rebecca Gershten.

"Because his DNA was a match he pled guilty to all counts and will not inflict physical pain on anyone again,' she said.

RELATED: Lawmakers Push For More DNA Samples From Offenders

The American Civil Liberties Union doesn't deny the crime solving benefits to the bill, but Denise Maes with the ACLU says the bill comes at a cost.

"The DNA that is collected really is your genetic blueprint that you are permitting the state government to hold in perpetuity," Maes said. "That to me is a very, very serious privacy invasion."

It's a concern some lawmakers shared two years ago when a bill requiring DNA collection on all misdemeanor arrests failed.

Rep. Polly Lawrence swabs the inside of Rep. Dan Pabon's cheek (credit: CBS)

This year's bill casts a smaller net and has wider support, but the ACLU says it's a slippery slope.

New York already takes saliva swabs upon conviction in any misdemeanor and reported that it's helped solve 200 murders and 600 rapes.

The bill in Colorado would add up to 2,000 more DNA samples to the state database.

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