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DNA and Confidentiality in Juvenile Justice

Collecting DNA samples from youth in the juvenile justice system raises serious concerns about confidentiality. Yet, little is known about how DNA-collection policies have been developed for juveniles in trouble with the law. Collecting DNA from Juveniles, from the Urban Institute, explores the implementation and impact of statutes which authorize states to collect DNA from juveniles and highlights methods used to incorporate juveniles into a DNA collection system made for adults. 

Recommendations include:

  • Consider (or re-consider) whether juveniles should be treated differently with respect to the scope of DNA collection, particularly for arrestee laws.
  • Align standards for expunging DNA profiles with standards for expunging juvenile
    records. (DNA records for youth are rarely expunged when their juvenile records are.)
  • Address how DNA collection laws interact with existing juvenile justice laws and
    practices and modify procedures to account for differences between juvenile and
    adult systems, including by developing stronger relationships between labs and
    juvenile justice agencies.
  • Monitor changes in the collection and use of DNA that could have implications for
    juveniles.
  • Encourage labs to compile and publicize basic aggregate descriptive data
    associated with youth profiles, which could improve oversight of the laws and
    facilitate future research.

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