The Unintended Consequences of California Proposition 47: Reducing Law Enforcement’s Ability to Solve Serious, Violent Crimes

Comment by: Shelby Kail

44 PEPP. L. REV. 1039 (2017)

For many years, DNA databases have helped solve countless serious, violent crimes by connecting low-level offenders to unsolved crimes.  Because the passage of Proposition 47 reduced several low-level crimes to misdemeanors, which do not qualify for DNA sample collection, Proposition 47 has severely limited law enforcement’s ability to solve serious, violent crimes through California’s DNA database and reliable DNA evidence.  This powerful law enforcement tool must be preserved to prevent additional crimes from being committed, to exonerate the innocent, and to provide victims with closure through conviction of their assailants or offenders.  Proposition 47’s unintended consequences have led to devastating costs in the first year alone, including a decreased deterrent effect, a rise in crime rates, and a lack of rehabilitation.  The goal of ensuring the safety and security of citizens should remain at the forefront of future actions.

This Comment analyzes the impact Proposition 47 has had and will have on the DNA database in California.  Additionally, this Comment examines the history of both state and federal DNA databases, the evolution of California’s DNA database, and case law considering the constitutionality of DNA database programs.  Specifically, this Comment assesses the consequences of Proposition 47 and considers different approaches to handling the arising issues.  This Comment concludes by summarizing the importance of restoring DNA collection for the low-level crimes Proposition 47 reduced to misdemeanors to ensure the safety and security of California citizens by keeping serious, violent criminals off the streets.

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The Outer Limits: IMSI-Catchers, Technology, and the Future of the Fourth Amendment

Comment by: Ryan C. Chapman

44 PEPP. L. REV. 841 (2017)

Recent advances in technology are posing new challenges for a legal system based on decades-old precedent.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in law enforcement’s warrantless use of IMSI Catchers.  These devices mimic a cell phone tower, and when the device is activated, cell phones will naturally connect to them.  Law enforcement officers can use those intercepted cell phone signals to track a suspect’s movements in real time with startling accuracy.  Scholarly commentary on these devices has largely concluded that their use requires a warrant.  This Comment engages in a close examination of Fourth Amendment precedent and argues that, as much as we might wish otherwise, the use of these devices is justified under existing case law.  The Fourth Amendment generally protects what a person seeks to keep private, but in a technologically connected world, the public has willingly traded privacy for convenience.  Thus, if we are to maintain our privacy in an increasingly technological world, we might require either a rethinking of the precedent underpinning the Fourth Amendment or a proactive Legislature to step in and fill the gap that exists between an eighteenth century Amendment and a twenty-first century world.

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