FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail The linked samples helped prosecutors identify repeat homicide and sexual offenders, including an estimated 200 that may not have discovered without the new law, according to the announcement.When a sample is collected, typically by cheek swab, officers ship the sample to the Indiana State Police’s lab in Indianapolis for testing, according to Evansville Regional Laboratory Manager Dan Colbert. The information then is entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national database where law enforcement agencies can compare DNA profiles to identify repeat offenders, especially when crimes are committed across state lines.Indiana law allows citizens to petition to remove their sample from CODIS if their charges are dropped, if a new felony charge is not filed within a year of the original incident or if they are acquitted.Even so, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has denounced the law and labeled it a violation of privacy.“The basic presumption of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ a cornerstone of our criminal justice system, is turned on its head when innocent people are included in a DNA databank,” ACLU officials said in a statement Tuesday. “There is a vast difference between using DNA as a tool in investigations — both to catch the guilty and exonerate the wrongly accused — and permanently storing the most intimate biological information of persons who may not have been convicted of any crime.”ACLU officials also said the measure could encourage racial divides.“A DNA databank that includes arrestees will unfairly represent minorities, who are wrongfully arrested at a disproportionately higher rate than whites,” the ACLU statement continued.Steuerwald, however, said because the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of allowing states to collect DNA for law enforcement purposes, there is no reason for additional debate.“The Supreme Court is the final authority,” he said. “We had the same debate with photos and fingerprinting. It’s new technology, but the same debate.”Steuerwald has argued for a change in DNA collection since 2015. Prior to this year, samples were only collected in the event of a felony conviction.Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, piloted the companion bill in the Senate that was adopted into law as Senate Enrolled Act 322.A fiscal analysis of SEA 322 estimated that state police labs would receive an additional 17,000 samples per year. In April, The Associated Press reported that the Indiana State Police lab division received around 4,200 samples to test per month between January and March 2018, a more than 3,000 per month increase from 2017.And though the law includes a provision to transfer additional money to the state’s DNA Sample Processing Fund — $424,317 per year — analysts outlined various equipment, staff and analysis costs that would require the state police to pay an additional $859,725 in 2018 to operate under the new statute. After first-year costs are settled, and specialized equipment is ordered, the state police’s lab division would pay around $648,725 extra per fiscal year.A substantial portion of the estimated expenditures comes directly from the kit analysis, which adds up to $527,000 annually.Indiana is the 31st state to enact a collection law of this kind. And the former 30 states, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report, have followed similar procedures for some time. The first was established by Louisiana in 1997.If a defendant in Indiana is matched to a CODIS profile, their posted bail may be increased or revoked, depending on the severity of the crime. Legislative analysts said this could cost jails up to $44 per person each day they are incarcerated.Steuerwald, however, said he wasn’t concerned “at all” with that provision.“They’ve been charged,” he said. “And according to the stats, they’re usually charged with a pretty heinous crime.”FOOTNOTE: Erica Irish is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. By Erica IrishTheStatehouseFile.comINDIANAPOLIS — Eight months after a law requiring state police to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested on a felony charge took effect, the policymakers behind the measure are praising what they see as positive results.In a press release last week, the office of Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, reported the new law had matched nearly 500 samples collected since Jan. 1 with old information recorded by a national database.
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