New Federal Law Could Help States Get Grants to Collect Suspects’ DNA


One of the few criminal justice bills to pass the recently concluded congressional session was the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act, reports the Carlsbad (NM) Current-Argus. Now waiting President Obama’s signature, the law is a spinoffof Katie’s Law, which is already in effect in 25 states and requires that a DNA sample be taken on arrest from anyone suspected of a felony.

Katie’s Law is named after the daughter of Dave and Jayann Sepich of Carlsbad. She was raped, murdered, and burned at the age of 22 while attending New Mexico State University. The bill allow for three years of funding for all states for the initial costs of starting the Katie’s Law project and DNA database. Jayann Sepich began pushing for DNA collection of those arrested after finding out that DNA was not collected in New Mexico. According to the National Criminal Justice Association, states would be eligible for funding (at 50 percent or 100 percent of costs, depending on the type of offense) primarily to cover the state's start-up costs. The bill does not require states to collect DNA from arrestees, and participation in the grant program would be voluntary.

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