Paternity Testing In Prison

How to get a DNA test from someone in prison?

Yes. To perform a private paternity test with an alleged father who is in prison, you would typically need to get a court order authorizing the DNA sample collection. The process varies by state, but often involves petitioning the court, providing documentation to show you have good cause for the testing, and getting the court order.

Once you have the court order, you provide it to the correctional facility where the alleged father is incarcerated. The facility can then arrange for a DNA specimens to be collected, either by having a collector come on site or by shipping a DNA test kit. The DNA sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis and comparison to the child’s DNA sample.

There are strict chain of custody procedures to ensure the integrity of the DNA collection and testing process. While logistically more difficult, paternity tests for prisoners can be successfully conducted with proper court authorization and cooperation from the correctional facility.

Do state prisons take DNA samples of inmates?

Yes. There are two types of DNA sample collections that the state is involved with.

Scenario 1.
DNA collection and analysis is primarily regulated at the state level, though there are some federal laws as well.

All 50 states and the federal government collect DNA specimens from convicted offenders and store them in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database.

The Supreme Court has upheld compulsory DNA collection from convicted felons as constitutional.
DNA collection from arrestees varies by state – about half of states collect DNA from some or all arrestees, while the other half only collect from convicts.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that DNA collection from arrestees is constitutional.

Familial DNA searching, which looks for partial matches to identify relatives of crime scene DNA, is controversial but allowed in some states like California and Virginia. It is not allowed at the federal level in CODIS.

Scenario 2.
Private DNA sample collections to determine the paternity of child. This can only be done with an inmate in most instances by way of court order. It is recommended that you consult a family law attorney in your that may have experience communicating with the correctional facilities in your state.

Related Questions:

How will the DNA samples be collected at the prison?

DNA samples collected at a prison or jail are done 99% of the time by buccal cheek swab. Blood draw samples are also an available option. It is important to note both testing options have similar accuracy.

Sample collection may be performed by prison staff or by a third-party DNA collector if the correctional facility allows.

Can an inmate deny to refuse a paternity test when a court order has been issued?

Yes. As we understand it, A prison can not make an inmate agree to have his or her DNA sample collected to determine the paternity of a child even with a court order. If a inmate refuses genetic testing. The judge will hold the inmate in contempt and issue a default judgment on the case in the mother’s favor.

It should be noted, DNA collection guideline for criminal cases are different for collections. Criminals may not have a choice to deny submitting their DNA into the FBI database.

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be substitute as legal advice or for interpreting DNA collection laws within your state.


In summary, a paternity test can be performed with an inmate but the process of coordinating DNA sample collections for inmates will vary from state to state. Please keep in mind the process will take longer than a standard paternity test.

We recommend consult an legal professional in your state for guide with effectively communicating a correctional facility.

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