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Joseph Wickstrom has never been an activist. He is receiving a crash course in protecting civil rights, and in resistance. The issue of mandatory DNA collection from convicted felons is not widely known. Activist Interview TONIGHT at 10pm on Channel 12.
Activist Interview TONIGHT at 10pm on Channel 12.

U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Joseph Wickstrom has never been an activist. He is receiving a crash course in protecting civil rights, and in resistance. The issue of mandatory DNA collection from convicted felons is not widely known. If you have never been convicted of a felony, you may not even be aware that legislation was passed making it mandatory to submit to a sample if you are a convicted felon within the system, retroactive from September 1991. Joe is a recovering drug addict, and as part of his past he has a few felony convictions.

Aside from crimes in which DNA becomes extremely relevant, such as murder and sexual assault, felonies include such crimes as possession of narcotics, or even attempted possession, where there is no evidence that DNA will provide any assistance in catching a criminal. A point to consider here is how few person-on-person crimes there are in comparison to the massive quantities of people convicted daily for drug or theft charges.

If you resist giving a sample of your DNA, you are in violation of your probation or parole and can be jailed, which will increase overcrowding in prisons and jails and possibly lead to early release of felons who will repeat offend in person-on-person crimes, as has often been the case here. There are many people who, by resisting, will be giving up their rights and leaving families, jobs and lives they have built for themselves as they are jailed under this draconian law. As well, when most of them signed their parole agreement this law was not in effect.

People affected by this are beginning to resist, validly citing the Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal search and seizure. As well, Oregon has a little known act on the books called the Genetic Privacy Act (ORS 677.097), which clearly states that in this State, we have ownership of our genetic code. States lacking this articulated right are already sliding down the slippery slope into mandatory collection of DNA samples from all arrestees whether proven guilty or not, as well as discussion over mandatory DNA samples from all newborns. So where does it end?

Following is an interview with Joe Wickstrom:
Chaela- So, how many Felony convictions have you got and more importantly, what are they?

Joe- I have 3 felonies, a criminal mischief which is 2nd degree car theft, one Possession (of cocaine) 2nd degree and one attempted possession 1st degree.

Chaela - And your time in recovery?

Joe - Over a year and a half

Chaela - Describe your work.

Joe - I work as a Mentor to mentally debilitated addicts trying to stay in recovery. I provide moral support, guidance, transportation to 12 step meetings, anything within my power to help further their recovery. I facilitate groups and work one-on-one with them.

Chaela - Why are you speaking out against the mandatory dna gathering?

For several reasons. One, my genetic material is my property. I feel that things such as DNA and my thoughts are intrinsically mine. I don't believe that because it is the law means i have to agree with it. And i don't. It is a punishment. Personally, i have complied with everything they (the State) have asked of me. And two years into my probation and parole, in good standing, they come at me with this. It supports the once a criminal always a criminal belief.

They may be able to solve cold cases, by taking samples from everyone under supervision however if you follow that logic how many more cases could they solve if they just took dna from every body.

Chaela - Are you in support of that?

Joe - Absolutely not. But i can see some well-intentioned person in power pushing it that way. In some states they are taking DNA from arrestees, guilty or not. Government believes this is a modern fingerprinting technique. Another thing i don't like about it is that criminals will realize that they can plant DNA. It may sound paranoid, however I am not of the criminal mindset and even I realize that can be done. I understand that the way they take the samples is you have a saliva swab taken, you sign a card and put your thumbprint on it and they package then together. But how would i know they would stay together Further more, what is the chain of custody with these samples? There is so much in this procedure that i don't know and they cannot or will nor tell me. Not to mention Fourth Amendment and Genetic Privacy Act aspects. And there's nothing in my criminal record documented or otherwise that supports the idea that i am capable of committing crimes during which I would leave behind DNA.

Not least of all, I feel our rights as citizens are being slowly chiseled away starting with the most undesirable and progressing to society as a whole.

And finally, technology is moving forward at such an accelerated rate that we as a society are not afforded the time to ethically and morally decide how we are going to use it.
Joe has no legal representation or counsel of any kind. He has been turned down by the ACLU who have given him very minimal guidance, and local National Lawyers Guild representatives, all saying that this is not a winnable point. Joe is interested in raising awareness of this situation even while knowing that he cannot legally win and that he very well may end up incarcerated for standing up for his and others rights.

For information, advice or assistance email Joe at joerulz@hotmail.com