President Obama signs Schiff legislation on DNA databases

President Obama on Thursday signed into law legislation sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) that would help fund a DNA database of people arrested on suspicion of committing violent felonies.

In a statement, Schiff said the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act would provide a “vital tool for law enforcement to help save lives and prevent future crimes.”

“By improving our DNA system, we will make sure that more violent and serious crimes are solved,” he said.

The legislation, which was sent to Obama’s desk on Monday after passing the Senate, 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.

The program will provide grants to states that collect DNA for arrestees of murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary and aggravated assault.

The bill uses existing funding sources from a DNA backlog reduction bill passed in 2000, and allocates up to $10 million each fiscal year from 2013 to 2015 for the grants.

Schiff co-sponsored the bill with Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash.) and Sen. Charles Schumer.

Schiff said that with California having had proven success solving crimes by collecting DNA from arrestees, he wanted to build databases in other states.

“Just as we fingerprint arrestees and those convicted of crimes, it makes absolute sense to collect a DNA profile when someone is arrested for a violent felony,” he said.

-- Daniel Siegal and Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @ValleySunDan.



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