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Indiana lawmakers reconsider proposal to require DNA sample on felony arrests

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INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 18, 2015) – Indiana lawmakers are once again considering a proposal that would require DNA samples on felony arrests.

A summer study committee debated the measure Tuesday, after a bill failed to make its way through the legislature last session.

“Many more states are going to continue to adopt this,” State Rep. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) said, who authored the original bill. “And we should because we will put rapists and murders in jail.”

Bauer was joined by Jayann Sepich, a New Mexico mom and co-founder of DNA Saves.

Sepich’s daughter was murdered in 2003. Investigators spent three years looking for her murderer, and only after a DNA match, did they find her killer.

“She was inventive, she was creative, she was feisty,” Sepich told the committee. “This man was such a monster, not only did he kill my baby, he set her on fire.”

Sepich pushed lawmakers to join more than two dozen other states in requiring a DNA sample from Hoosiers arrested for a felony.

If Indiana’s measure passed, the DNA would be stored at the state crime lab and the profile would be entered into the FBI’s nationwide system.

In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld states’ rights to collect DNA on serious arrests.

But critics have major privacy concerns, saying simply being arrested for a felony and not convicted means police can add a person to the nationwide DNA database.

“To say we can take people’s DNA just because they’ve made some violation, whether they did it or not for example, is a scary thought to me,” Sen. R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis) said.

Indiana State Police testified the task would cripple an already overburdened state crime lab, unless lawmakers made a significant investment to redesign labs to securely hold the new influx of DNA.

Not only that, the samples would have to be expunged if charges were dropped, not filed or the person was acquitted.

“We’re talking millions upon millions of dollars that would be necessary up-front allocated to police ot help us redesign our infrastructure in our systems, hire new personnel,” Sgt. Brad Hoffeditz said, legal counsel for state police. “

Still advocates contend overall the measure would save taxpayer dollars.

“The power in DNA, especially in taking upon arrest, is not in solving crimes but preventing crimes,” Sepich said.

Young, who is chair of the interim study committee on corrections and criminal code, said he’s unsure what will develop from Tuesday’s hearing, adding he’ll seek the input of fellow committee-members in whether any legislation will be drafted or considered for re-introduction.

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