Delmer Smith is now either being investigated or charged in 11 attacks on women and one on a man that occurred after he left DNA at a crime scene in 2008. Had the FBI bothered to upload his DNA profile into their database in a timely manner, these 12 rape, murder, and assault victims would not be victims today. For, if the FBI had done its job, Smith would have been identified the first time he committed a sexual assault after release from prison, and police would have known where to find him because he also had to register his address with the parole board.
Looking beyond the FBI’s screw-up, this case illustrates the importance of probation and registration requirements and of laws that require all convicted felons to give samples of DNA.
If the system had been working as it was supposed to, Smith would have never gotten the chance to victimize so many people. Yet these DNA database laws are vehemently opposed by the A.C.L.U.
If the A.C.L.U. had its way, convicted felons like Delmer Smith would be able to keep committing crimes under the cover of anonymity, while police hands would remain tied. The police would be denied the very tools that are credited with significantly reducing the rate of rape in recent years. That’s thousands of rapes prevented by getting serial rapists off the streets.
The A.C.L.U. argues that the government can’t be trusted with sensitive information like DNA; they argue that ‘in the future, the database might get misused.’ They insinuate that medical information might be gleaned from the information in the database, which is just silly. They float accusations of potential racial profiling. They say anything, in other words, to try to inspire fear, in order to achieve their real goal, which is to block the enforcement of the law, by any means necessary, no matter the body count.
When you hear arguments about how unfair it is to force ex-cons to register with the state, or to keep their DNA on record for the next time they decide to rape an elderly woman or beat someone to death, think of Delmer Smith’s 11 victims. Good policing stopped Smith after bad administration of the federal DNA database slipped up. But this case illustrates precisely why the police need all the tools they can get.
No matter what the A.C.L.U. says.