Law enforcement officers will soon be able to do mandatory AIDS testing on those arrested for sexual assault.
House Bill 2-57 was passed by lawmakers with nearly unanimous support in Mississippi's House and Senate. The measure gives law enforcement the right to test individuals arrested for sexually assaulting a minor for diseases such as HIV and AIDS.
Under current Mississippi law, testing can only be conducted after a person has been convicted of a crime. Proponents say the new law will help young victims know if they've been exposed to a terrible disease.
Republican Representative Mark Formby of Picayune helped draft the law. He says the test would become part of the intake process.
"If you're arrested and you get photographed; it is not any additional evasive behavior," says Formby. “We are documenting that you were arrested, which means that there was some degree of evidence that implicated you in a crime."
Despite the measure's popularity among lawmakers, some groups like the ACLU of Mississippi believe the law is a slippery slope.
Keia Johnson is the organization's legislative strategist. She says the law amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure.
"We believe that when you mandate that DNA is to be collected for HIV testing purposes or anything like that upon arrest, that you are violating the due process of law," Johnson says.
According to Representative Formby, both the suspect and the victim will be given the results of the test 24 hours after it was taken. At that time, all other DNA samples would be destroyed.