Schiff hails legislation for DNA collection of those arrested for felonies

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Monday hailed the bipartisan support of a bill that would award grants to states that start programs to collect DNA samples of people arrested on suspicion of violent felonies.

The legislation, which is headed to President Obama’s desk after passing the Senate on Monday, bears the name of Katie Sepich, a college student who was raped and murdered in 2003 in New Mexico. Her attacker was arrested several times over the next few years but was never linked to Sepich’s murder because his DNA was not collected until 2006.

“[This measure] is an important step that will save lives,” Schiff said in a statement. “Every improvement we make to our DNA system means that more violent crimes solved and more violent felons taken of the street.”

The Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2012, also known as Katie’s Law, establishes a program to provide grants to states that implement DNA collection programs for people arrested on suspicion of murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary or aggravated assault.

States are authorized to collect DNA for a larger subset of crimes, but must do so for those felony crimes, according to the legislation.

Schiff said the measure, which was first introduced in 2010, is a “smart approach” that will save taxpayer dollars.

“Just as we fingerprint arrestees, it makes sense to collect a DNA profile when someone is arrested for a violent felony,” Schiff said. “This bill will encourage states around the nation to join California and other states that have adopted arrestee testing.”

While the bill does not authorize new funding for the DNA program, it uses funds created from an existing law to reduce a DNA backlog and specifies that up to $10 million in each fiscal year from 2013 to 2015 may be used as grants for states under Katie’s Law.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam


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