Friday, March 18, 2011

PA: Senate Bill Looks to Expand DNA Collection

A new bill in Pennsylvania would provide for mandatory DNA testing after a suspect's preliminary hearing on any felony charge as well as a number of misdemeanors, according to the Associated Press. Similar to the process currently used by police to obtain fingerprints from people accused of a crime.

The bill sponsored by State Senator Dominic Pileggi would build on the list of offenses for which post-conviction DNA testing is now required. "We need to make the best possible use of the rapidly evolving science of DNA evidence to help fight crime and ensure public safety," Senator Pileggi told the Associated Press. "That's not happening right now, and as a result criminals are going free and innocent people are in jail."

Twenty-four other states have similar laws, including Ohio, Maryland and Virginia as well as Florida, Texas and California, reported the Associated Press.

The legislation also would allow police to use searches of DNA collected from crime scenes to find close — but not precise — matches in the state DNA database to trace potential relatives of a perpetrator. At least three other states have similar laws, according to the Associated Press.

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