In an attempt to keep one of his signature initiatives alive, Gov.
The release of the Democratic governor's legislative agenda comes about a month before the
For that reason, repealing the sunset provision only makes sense, said
"If it's unconstitutional, it doesn't really matter what the legislature does," Shellenberger said. "If the Supreme Court upholds the law, it doesn't seem to be a good use of resources" to allow the law to expire.
In Maryland, law enforcement is authorized to collect a DNA sample when a suspect is arrested for committing or attempting to commit a violent crime or burglary. The information is entered into a database, which has resulted in 73 arrests and 42 convictions since the law took effect in January 2009. Additional investigations are continuing.
Civil liberties advocates say taking DNA samples before a person is convicted of a crime is counter to the fundamentals of the American justice system that declare a person innocent until proved guilty. The law's opponents also say a database with sensitive genetic data has the potential to be abused.
Courts across the country have been split on the constitutionality of the practice.
The sunset provision was added as an amendment during legislative negotiations, chiefly with the state's Legislative Black Caucus. The caucus was concerned, among other matters, that the database would contain a disproportionate number of samples from African-Americans.
The caucus hasn't decided whether to support the governor's attempt to reauthorize the law.
"The Legislative Black Caucus has not reviewed the governor's proposal, and at this time reserves opposition, as ultimately the constitutionality of this particular law will be determined by the Supreme Court later this year," the caucus' executive director, LaVita Simpson, said.
The high court is set to hear arguments in the DNA case on Feb. 26.
The case in question involves Alonzo Jay King Jr., who was sentenced to life in prison for the 2003 rape of a 53-year-old Salisbury woman in her home. King was charged with the rape after police took his DNA when he was arrested in 2009 on unrelated assault charges.
In April, the Maryland Court of Appeals struck down the law authorizing post-arrest DNA collection, but the state attorney general appealed to the Supreme Court.