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DNA Backlog Bill Sent to President

Congress has approved legislation (H.R. 4640) designed to help eliminate a backlog of DNA samples waiting to be analyzed in criminal cases. Originally, the House approved the bill on October 2 (see The Source, 10/6/00, p. 3). The Senate then amended the measure and approved it, by unanimous consent, on December 6. The House approved, by voice vote, the Senate’s amended version of H.R. 4640, sending it to the President.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-FL), the bill would authorize funding for states to reduce the backlog of DNA samples to be analyzed and help states expand services, including providing more crime scene DNA tests.

H.R. 4640 would authorize funding to compile the information gathered and enter it into the FBI’s database of sex offenders and murderers, which was created under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (P.L. 103-322). Additionally, the bill would seek to close a loophole in the original legislation by mandating DNA collection in cases involving offenders who are in the military or who reside in the District of Columbia.

The Senate approved, by unanimous consent, an amendment by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressing the sense of the Congress that DNA tests should be made available to those who were convicted before testing was mandated, and who believe that the results might exonerate them.

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