Darneille sponsors bill to collect DNA samples from felony arrestees in Washington state

December 5th, 2013|

On Dec. 4, 2013, Sen. Jeannie Darneille, signed on as the first sponsor of legislation that would create an improved DNA database law in Washington state.

“I am proud to be the first person to have signed onto this bill,” said Darneille. “This issue fits very closely with my life’s work to reduce violence, especially against women and children. When we are able to use science and technology to help solve crimes and tip the scales of justice in favor of those who have suffered, we are on our way to creating a better Washington.”

The proposed bill will require that biological samples of DNA identification be collected from all adults arrested for ranked felony offenses or gross misdemeanor violations of domestic violence protection orders. Samples would be uploaded to the national Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS) after a court finds probable cause. If no probable cause is found, the DNA sample would be destroyed.

“I believe in justice and in privacy, but I also believe in justice for the victims,” said Darneille. “I believe that we will face our own state constitutional test with this issue, and I say bring it on. The United States Supreme Court case of Maryland v. King has provided a legal precedent in favor of DNA collection and has compared DNA submissions to fingerprinting. We have the science, we have the technology, we know there is a need, and there is high potential for federal financial support. We will be tested in the coming months as we seek legislative support.”

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) contains more than 3 billion individual markers. Of those 3 billion markers, only 13 go into the CODIS system and contain no genetic medical information. Since 2001, the CODIS system in Washington state has matched more than 1,800 DNA samples with samples of evidence in investigations.

Darneille will also propose a bill to streamline the collection process of DNA samples in all 39 counties so that the information may be added to CODIS faster than the current process. “Each county currently has its own system,” said Darneille. “The faster we can process DNA samples, the faster justice may be served.”