A recent lawsuit alleges that New Jersey State Police used blood samples taken from newborns to investigate crimes committed decades earlier. The New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (OPD) filed the complaint after learning that the State Police successfully subpoenaed a testing lab for a blood sample taken nine years earlier to link the child’s father to a crime that took place more than 25 years ago.
Every baby born in New Jersey is required to have a blood sample drawn within 48 hours, as a part of mandatory testing program that screens for a variety of disorders. The samples, which are taken without informed consent of the newborn’s parents or guardians, are collected through a needle prick to the heel, tested by the Newborn Screening Laboratory, which is operated by the New Jersey Department of Health, and stored for more than 20 years.
By subpoenaing the Screening Laboratory, the State Police allegedly evaded its constitutional duty to establish probable cause and obtain a warrant in order to collect a buccal swap for DNA analysis. Instead, the State Police conducted a DNA analysis of the child’s blood spot sample to establish probable cause to obtain a warrant for a buccal swap from the father, who was later criminally charged. OPD, along with the New Jersey Monitor, an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan news site, filed the lawsuit to compel the state of New Jersey to disclose the extent to which it is utilizing the Newborn Screening Laboratory as an investigatory tool for its prosecutions to sidestep constitutional duties. Full story.