Once again, the Indiana General Assembly is being asked to expand law enforcement’s ability to collect DNA.
Rep. B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, filed a bill during Organization Day that would required DNA samples be collected from anyone arrested in Indiana on felony charges. Avon Republican Rep. Greg Steuerwald, the architect of Indiana’s new criminal code, signed on as a co-author.
“This is an important crime-fighting measure that will help to bring to justice people who have committed crimes like murder and rape,” Bauer said.
Bauer initially proposed his DNA collection bill during the 2015 legislative session. That measure specified the DNA could be taken only by buccal swab and the sample would be expunged if the individual was acquitted, all felony charges were dismissed or no charges were filed.
His bill did not receive a hearing but the topic was assigned to the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code.
The committee held a hearing on the matter which included emotional testimony from Jayann Sepich whose 22-year-old daughter was raped and murdered in New Mexico in 2003. She is now an advocate and has lobbied many state legislatures to allow for the collection of samples from arrestees.
“As Jayann Sepich told the study committee members, the real value of the DNA collection from those being charged with felonies comes in the prevention of crimes,” Bauer said. “There are so many perpetrators who commit multiple crimes and many of those crimes are rapes and murders. By cross-checking DNA for matches, we are keeping those criminal off the street, so they cannot commit more violent crimes.”
Although the interim committee took testimony, it did not make any recommendations or consider any proposed legislation about DNA collection.