Archive for Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Lawmakers send DNA testing bill to governor

May 3, 2006

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has been sent legislation requiring people arrested on felony charges to submit a DNA sample when they are booked and fingerprinted.

The bill began its trip to the governor's desk Tuesday when the House approved it 119-5, the day after the Senate voted 29-11 to endorse it.

"It's such a valuable tool for law enforcement. It will make a huge difference in identifying and incarcerating sex predators and other violent criminals," said sponsoring Rep. Pat Colloton, R-Leawood.

Under the House-Senate conference committee bill, those facing a felony charge of driving while under the influence also must submit a sample, collected by wiping a cotton swab inside the mouth.

The sample would be analyzed by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to come up with a DNA profile. Supporters say while the 14 chromosomes used to construct a profile don't contain personal information, they are more than sufficient to make a match with another sample.

If charges are dismissed, a person is acquitted or a conviction is expunged, the person could ask the KBI to destroy the sample, but the DNA record would remain in the database like a fingerprint.

The same request also could be made if charges haven't been filed by the time the statute of limitations expires on the crime. If a sample links a person to another crime, the subsequent charges could stand even if the original charges were dismissed and the sample destroyed.

Officials say the bill could result in an additional 12,000 DNA samples each year. California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia already take DNA samples along with fingerprints at the time of arrest.

Currently, DNA samples are required of people convicted of most felonies. The legislation would expand that to include those arrested on such charges.

The bill would take effect in January 2007 to give the KBI time to get the laboratory equipment needed for the swab samples. Most DNA testing by the KBI is done from blood samples.

In the first year, it would apply to adults arrested and juveniles taken into custody for violent felonies such as rape or murder. Starting in July 2008, samples would be taken in all felony cases.

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