About 50,000 felons have been released from Illinois prisons or county probation without submitting DNA samples as required by law, leaving a gap in the 7-year-old program designed to link known criminals to unsolved crimes, reports the Chicago Tribune. The missing DNA samples concern law enforcers, lawmakers and victims advocates, who say Illinois has been robbed of the opportunity to solve crimes, remove violent offenders from the street and exonerate the wrongfully convicted.
Exactly how many people have not submitted samples as required by law is unknown. No government entity has tracked whether DNA is being gathered from all felons covered by the 2002 law. Last week, the state attorney general sent surveys to all county probation offices and state’s attorneys in Illinois, asking when they began complying with the 2002 law and to what extent. The office ultimately wants to develop ways to capture missing samples. Under the law, every felon sentenced on or after Aug. 22, 2002, must provide a DNA sample, whether they are under the supervision of the Department of Corrections or a county jail or probation.