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Monday, March 24, 2008

Update on Maryland House Bill 370

Guy Djoken

Last week, following the call of the Maryland State NAACP, we asked the general public to contact our Delegates and Senators in Annapolis to state our firm opposition the DNA Bill that we believe will disproportionally affect the poor and minority population in the state.

For the record, we do not oppose the collection of the DNA of those who have been convicted in a court of law. Our fundamental problem is that the Bill that was approved 134-4 without debate on the House floor requires those accused of a number of felonies to submit a DNA sample, so that police can determine if the suspect is linked to other crimes.

Knowing that Black, Latino and other minorities are disproportionally stopped by law enforcement in the state of Maryland it is very important that safeguards be put in place to make sure that these stops are not used as a way of collecting DNA for people who are innocent.

I will like to take a moment here to extend our gratitude to Baltimore City Delegate Jill Carter for voting against the measure, along with Republicans Michael Smigiel, Richard Sossi and Donna Stiffler. Hon. Marvin L. 'Doc' Cheatham, Sr., President of the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP clearly stated the following in a letter expressing his disappointment to the Delegates following the approval without debate. "Please explain your position on HB 370 and how it has nothing to do with the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution. We would really like to read your explanation why HB 370 has nothing to do with the 4th Amendment. Maybe you have a point of view that the civil rights community is not cognizant of."

House Bill 370 is now before the Senate which will consider its own version of the Bill today. Please contact your senator to express your opposition to this Bill.

Some thoughts on the Economy:

At the time when we are bowing our heads for the grim milestone death of 4000 brave service men and women in Iraq, bad news about jobs, gas prices, drop in home values, inflation, the dollar free fall and the unstable stock market is squeezing the middle class like no time before in recent memories. The unprecedented number of foreclosures call for a new leadership that may help end what some are calling the "Bush depression."

This depression, still referred to by the Bush administration as recession, is a result of a failed policy that was implemented to wage a war on the middle class. It is yet to be known how much the successive drop of short-term interest rates by the FED to a historic 2.25 percent will provide some relief to the remaining homeowners with mortgages on the verge of losing all their personal equity in their houses.

After the first Bush-Chaney administration in 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau's statistics 2004 showed the official poverty rate at 12.3 percent in 2006. That means 36.5 million people in poverty in 2006. The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 44.8 million (15.3 percent) in 2005 to 47 million (15.8 percent) in 2006.

Guy Djoken is President NAACP, Frederick County, Maryland Branch


Anonymous said...

I, too, am appalled by the vote to pass this DNA bill. I can't believe our democratic legislature and governor have such little regard to the constitution and the protection of individual rights. It seems they are playing fast and loose with our tax dollars and our fundamental freedoms. I am a true democrat but ashamed of the actions of these representatives of my party.

Anonymous said...

I believe some african-american state representatives were successful in adding an amendment to this Bill. The amendment stated something to the effect that if a individual was found innocent then their DNA sample would not be added to the data base.

Anonymous said...

I tried to leave this link in the previous comment but I messed it up and had to delete it. So I will try again. Here is the Link to the article in the Baltimore Sun that talks about the amendment which was included when the bill passed by a voice vote in the House:,0,2952762.story