On June 12, the House Judiciary Committee approved, by voice vote, H.R. 5057, the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008. The committee began consideration of the bill on May 14, after the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security approved the measure on May 13 (see The Source, 5/16/08). The bill authorizes $151 million for FY2009 and $200 million for FY2010-2014 for a program aimed to mitigate the processing backlog of DNA samples used to investigate and prosecute sexual assault suspects.
The committee approved, by voice vote:
The committee also approved, 19-12, an amendment by Rep. Schiff to “provide incentives for states to…collect samples from individuals arrested or charged with murder or sex crimes.” In support of his amendment, he said, “Those states…would be eligible for a ten percent increase in federal law enforcement funds for states to collect samples from those arrested for murder and other violent sex crimes.”
During debate on the amendment, Rep. Weiner expressed concern that “law enforcement might be encouraged to [make] arrests…just for the purpose of collecting a lot of DNA evidence.” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) responded that “if police were to arrest people improperly…without probable cause…that evidence [would be] inadmissible.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) added, “We have to make sure that we get more information, not less…we also have to be thinking about the people who would be proven innocent and would not be pursued for a crime they’re suspected of if we had more DNA evidence available…I just don’t believe that we will have people indiscriminately arrested without probable cause.”