Interim committees schedule hearings on hot-button issues

August 6, 2015

Indiana legislators are preparing to examine a proposal that would permit the collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony in the state.

The Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code has placed the proposal on its agenda for its first meeting at 10 a.m. Aug. 18 in Room 130 of the Indiana Statehouse.

State Rep. B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, presented the idea in House Bill 1551 during the 2015 legislative session. The bill allowed law enforcement to collect the sample only by swabbing the inside of a person’s cheek. The legislation included a provision for expungement of the DNA sample if the person either was acquitted, had all charges dismissed or had no charges filed after 30 days.

Bauer’s bill picked up Republican Rep. Greg Steuerwald as a co-author but never received a hearing in the Courts and Criminal Code Committee. However, the legislative council agreed to assign the proposal to an interim committee for additional study.

In announcing that his measure had been selected, Bauer pointed to the Maryland v. King, 569 U.S. ___ (2013), ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States. The 5-4 majority found taking a DNA sample is a legitimate police booking procedure, like fingerprinting and photographing, and is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.   

“The advent of forensic DNA collection has proven to be extremely valuable in identifying people who may have committed multiple crimes,” Bauer said. “At the same time, it has been proven to help exonerate people falsely committed of crimes.”

In addition to the DNA proposal, the Courts and Criminal Code Committee will look at the problems offenders face when they are released from prison.  

Another hot-button law enforcement issue is scheduled to be reviewed by the Interim Study Committee on Government at its meeting at 10 a.m. Aug. 26 in Statehouse Room 431.

Legislators will examine public records request for video from police body cameras. Specifically, the committee will study whether additional exemptions are needed to Indiana’s open records law to prevent the disclosure of private information caught by police body cameras and whether restrictions should be put in place on the access and use of the camera video.   



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