Friday, April 15, 2011

DNA Database Bill on the way to the Governor

Yesterday, the Senate passed a House version of bill that will close a loophole by allowing the collection of DNA samples, not only from convicted felons in prisons, but also from convicted felons on probation. The DNA samples will be entered into a database to help with identification in future cases.

If signed by the governor, Senate Bill 80 will help expand the DNA database to quickly identify suspects and quickly solidify convictions in future crimes. DNA sampling would generally include a simple oral swab, a non-invasive technique. The DNA collection would be performed after a judge or jury has convicted a suspect of a felony, no matter the sentence. Currently, only felons in Georgia state prisons can be sampled for DNA.

As of now, 24 states and the federal government have programs similar to the one passed in SB 80. In those states, the DNA databases have also proven effective in closing cold cases and in freeing people who were wrongly convicted of crimes.

Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), the bill’s sponsor, said DNA testing is the modern form of fingerprint identification, only more reliable. Eventually, Sen. McKoon said, all law enforcement agencies will use DNA databases to help solve crimes.

“I think it is important to point out that everyone who is arrested is fingerprinted and put into a database,” Sen. McKoon said. “This is a much more conservative system where only convicted felons will have their DNA put into a database. Eventually, however, I expect future legislation will allow DNA samples to be collected upon probable cause, rather than conviction. When this happens, many more crimes will be solved quickly and many more falsely accused suspects will be set free.”

Sen. Josh McKoon represents the 29th Senate District which includes Harris and Meriwether counties and portions of Muscogee and Troup counties. He may be reached by phone at 404.463.3931 or by e-mail at

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