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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "Boone County prosecutor urges expansion of DNA testing to all felony arrestees"

Rod Rose, Lebanon Reporter Assistant Managing Editor, writes today (here via Ind. Econ. Digest) - some quotes:

DNA collected from Damione Wilcoxson following his arrest in Ohio for robbery directly contributed to his capture Monday for the murder of a Zionsville man.

Wilcoxson’s DNA was collected because since 2010, Ohio has been collecting DNA samples. Indiana requires that people convicted of a felony — but not those arrested — provide a DNA sample.

Now, Prosecutor Todd Meyer wants DNA collect requirements expanded to include people who have been arrested, but not yet convicted.

About half the states (23) require that DNA be collected from convicted felons, according to the Justice Department.

Indiana is one of those, Meyer said. It’s already solved one case in Boone County, he said. * * *

Indiana’s requirement that DNA samples be taken from convicted felons is recent, Meyer said.

He and other prosecutors want the sampling requirement extended to people who have been arrested, but not yet convicted, much as they are fingerprinted.

“I can think of no really good reason why a state wouldn’t want to have a law like this on the books,” Meyer said.

State Senator Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, told WTHR-TV that he would introduce such a bill when the General Assembly convenes next year.

“I think it’s time,” Merritt told the TV station. “We’re taking a fingerprint. We’re taking photographs. DNA should be next on felony arrests.

Court fees could cover the collection costs, Meyer said.

“The obstacles would be cost,” Meyer said. Legislation has been presented in the past that would impose sampling-at-arrest DNA collection, he said. Similar legislation will be submitted again, he said, although it likely will be limited to people arrested for felony crimes.

“I think,” Meyer said, “that’s probably because of the cost of doing it to everyone who is arrested.”

The Office of Justice Programs at the National Institute of Justice in June 2012 estimated that collecting DNA swabs would cost $4 to $6 per person, with analysis of the DNA itself costing between $20 and $40 per sample. * * *

Louisiana began collecting DNA from arrestees in 1997, according to the NIJ. Four other states passed similar laws. In 2005 Congress passed a law requiring that effective Jan. 1, 2009, DNA be taken from any person arrested for a federal crime.

Of the 28 states permitting DNA collection from people under arrest, 13 require it for any felony. The other 15 collect DNA only for violent crimes.

Some of those laws have been overturned in court challenges; others remain on the books, the NIJ said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 3, 2016 10:53 AM
Posted to Indiana Government