CJ Griffin Appears on “The Brian Lehrer Show” to Discuss How New Jersey Police are Using Newborns’ Blood Samples to Investigate Crimes
CJ Griffin, Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, appeared on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC on August 3, 2020. Griffin was interviewed by Matt Katz, together with Dana DiFilippio, senior reporter at the New Jersey Monitor. The interview discusses a lawsuit filed by Griffin on behalf of the New Jersey Public Defender’s Office and the New Jersey Monitor to learn more about the use by law enforcement of newborn blood samples taken at birth as part of health screenings and subsequently used as evidence in criminal investigations. The lawsuit is currently pending and will be decided in October, but in the interim, it has drawn widespread media attention.
In New Jersey statute, although it does say that they should only be used for the health screening purpose, evidently the newborn screening lab is just responding to simple subpoenas by a law enforcement agency and not even requiring a court order or a search warrant.
We need those safeguards in place. We need legislatures to define exactly what the use can be to require informed consent, both for the blood draw, as well as the retention to allow parents to opt out of the retention if they so desire or to be able to demand destruction of the blood sample. A simple transparency and constitutional safeguards here are very important. We don't know the scope of this problem, which is why we're we filed our lawsuit in New Jersey. I think once we have some more information, then there'll be additional demands for legislative change.
Griffin was also quoted in the Gothamist article, “Just how often does NJ use babies’ blood to ID criminal suspects? State officials aren’t saying.”
"When you give blood for a specific purpose, it's problematic then if it would be used for anything beyond what you thought it was being used for," she said. And Griffin contends use of the babies' DNA to identify other individuals may not be legal at all.
To listen to the full interview on WNYC, click here.
To view an article on Gothamist.com click here.