Should Congress Prod More States to Collect Arrestees’ DNA?


In 2001, King County Sheriff Dave Reichert in Washington state relied on a DNA match to solve the case of the Green River Killer, who murdered 49 women and still ranks as the nation’s most prolific serial killer, McClatchy Newspapers report. Now a congressman, Reichert wants to expand the use of DNA testing by getting more states to collect DNA samples, just as they do fingerprints, when suspected felons are arrested for state crimes. Testing already is allowed for anyone arrested for a federal crime; 24 states have passed such a law. Reichert wants to spend $30 million over 5 years to provide incentives for the remaining 26 states to pass similar laws.

Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say it’s an invasion of privacy and that DNA testing should be reserved for convicted felons. They note that hundreds of thousands of people are arrested each year but that many of them are never charged or convicted. Reichert has teamed up with Jayann and David Sepich of Carlsbad, N.M., whose 22-year-old daughter, Katie was raped, strangled, set on fire, and abandoned at a dump site in August 2003. Jayann Sepich said a national DNA sample law could save hundreds of lives, and she wants to help others avoid her trauma. She’s become an expert, testifying at statehouses across the U.S. and works full time on the issue.

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