Ca. Ready To Expand DNA Database Under New Law


California officials are ready to expand a DNA database designed to catch criminals, after voters overwhelmingly authorized it, the Los Angeles Times says. Approved by 61.8 percent of voters on Tuesday, Proposition 69 mandates that DNA be taken from every adult and juvenile convicted of a felony in California and from every adult arrested for certain felonies, including sex offenses, murder, and voluntary manslaughter. In one year, testing all 200,000 people convicted of felonies in the state, on average, would almost double the size of California’s existing database.

Officials have used the 10-year-old database to catch more than 1,000 criminals. “They know it is just a matter of time before we catch them, thanks to this proposition,” said Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, calling passage a victory for crime victims. California joins 35 other states that require testing for convicted felons. The measure also requires that starting in 2009, every adult arrested on suspicion of any felony be tested – the part of the initiative that civil libertarians have most strongly opposed. Only Louisiana now requires such testing. The American Civil Liberties Union may sue to block that part of the law. Prosecutors in Los Angeles plan to ask that jailers start taking oral swabs next week from inmates after they have been sentenced. A prosecutor said the proposition is simple to implement because it authorizes mouth swabs. Trained deputies can take the samples, much as detectives in sex crime cases have done for years.


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