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Rapid DNA Legislation Subject of House Hearing

On June 18, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations held a hearing on the Rapid DNA Act (H.R. 320).

The bill, sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), would revise quality assurance and proficiency testing standards for booking stations, jails, prisons, detention centers, and other law enforcement organizations or facilities that conduct DNA analysis. The measure would facilitate the exchange of DNA identification information among law enforcement agencies and would require the National Institute of Justice to certify that a blind proficiency DNA testing program has been established.

“A recent hit to a 20-year-old sexual assault illustrates the value in expanding the law enforcement DNA collection programs,” said Amy Hess, executive assistant director, Science and Technology, Federal Bureau of Investigations. Ms. Hess continued, “A sexual assault evidence kit collected immediately after a 1995 assault in New York City’s West Village was tested in 2001, and the resulting DNA profile was entered into CODIS [Combined DNA Index System]. The prosecutor’s office issued a ‘John Doe’ indictment in 2003. This January, the alleged perpetrator was arrested in Florida for an aggravated battery charge. The alleged perpetrator’s sample collected at the time of his arrest matched to the 1995 sexual assault and he has been extradited to New York. In this example, the expanded scope of collection, the commitment to analyze sexual assault evidence kits and the use of a John Doe indictment cooperatively resulted in information necessary for the investigation/prosecution of this serious offense.”

The following witnesses also testified:

  • Jody Wolf, assistant crime laboratory administrator, Phoenix Police Department Crime Laboratory, president, American Society of Criminal Laboratory Directors; and
  • Natasha Alexenko, founder, Natasha’s Justice Project.

 

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