The currently evolving debate over ethical and legal approaches to DNA data banks reflects, in part, shifting societal perceptions of dividing lines between humanity and commodity, definitions of genetic inheritance between individuals and families, and the rights of the individual versus the rights of the community. Tensions arise whether the data bank has been created for medical or for forensic purposes. The authors, through their work as community activists described more fully below, have come to realize that the key to resolving these tensions and developing ethically acceptable DNA data bank practices is meaningful community engagement. Not unlike medical DNA data banks, personally identifiable DNA samples are routinely retained by states long after a convict's or arrestee's DNA profile has been derived from it and entered into the state database. The question arises, then, as to what, if any, non-forensic uses can these samples – ethically – be put.