According to www.dnasaves.org, since 1974 more than 90% of all state prisoners have been repeat offenders. Wiggins said it is statistics like that which are behind his push to get a Mississippi version of the law passed next year.
Lawmakers on the federal level are similarly pushing for passage of the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act. The law was first proposed in 2010 and would provide funding for states to implement a DNA collection process for felony arrests. The states would then put procedures in place to ensure that a swab was taken of an arrestee’s inner cheek at the same time they’re being fingerprinted.
The law is named after Katie Sepich, who was raped, strangled and killed outside of her New Mexico home in August 2003. The young girl’s body was then set on fire and abandoned at an old dump. The man behind the crime, Gabriel Avila, was captured, but not until three years later when he was convicted of a felony and his DNA was taken which showed a match to the DNA found under Katie’s fingernails. Lawmakers and Katie’s parents believe that had his DNA been taken during previous felony arrests he would have been apprehended much sooner.
Advocates of the change point out that with a similar DNA taking process in place after a felony arrest, California has cleared or aided in the investigation of over 50 percent of the unsolved cases added to its database between January 2009 and January 2011. A 2005 Chicago study on the behavior of eight repeat offenders showed that 60 violent crimes including 53 murders and rapes could have been prevented if they had been required to give DNA at the time of their first sex crime arrests.
Those opposed to measure argue that taking DNA from someone who has not yet been convicted of a crime violates their 4th Amendment constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Critics also say that DNA could be used for profiling purposes. Proponents have responded by saying that if a person is found innocent, the DNA can be discarded which should prevent any profiling problems.
The sponsor of the law believes that the chances are good for passage in Mississippi. Should it succeed, Mississippi would join surrounding states Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee which each have similar DNA testing laws on the books.
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Source: “Pascagoula lawmaker plans to push passage of DNA arrestee testing law in Mississippi,” by Kaija Wilkinson, published at GulfLive.com.