Religious objection won't stop DNA sampling

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A federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to stop the government from taking DNA from a prisoner who claims the process would violate his religious beliefs.

Russell Kaemmerling, who is in the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, Texas on a felony wire fraud conviction, sued in 2006 to stop the Federal Bureau of Prisons from taking a DNA sample from him.

Federal law requires felons give a DNA sample to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to be kept in a national law enforcement database. Officers then use the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, to try and solve crimes by matching evidence from crime scenes to known offenders.

Kaemmerling claimed the collection violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution, saying the collection and retention of his DNA information is "tantamount to laying the foundation for the rise of the anti-Christ."

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled against Kaemmerling, saying only that the prisoner had not exhausted all of the remedies available inside the prison system.

But on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit added that Kaemmerling's claim that submitting to DNA sampling, collection and storage would be repugnant to his strongly held religious beliefs was not enough to stop the collection.

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