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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 18, 2015 03:04 PM
From: Representative David H. Zimmerman
To: All House members
Subject: Missing Persons (former HB1286)
I will be introducing legislation from last session (prior HB1286) that will amend Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) by amending Section 2908 (Missing children)

Specifically, this legislation requires law enforcement agents to:
  • Inform parents and family members making a missing persons report that they may provide a DNA sample or a personal article of clothing of the missing person,
  • Provide a release form to these persons explaining that the DNA analysis will be used solely to identify the missing person,
  • Submit samples to the Pennsylvania State Police for DNA analysis and inclusion within DNA databases,
  • Require the Pennsylvania State Police to submit the analysis to the FBI’s National Missing Person DNA Database, and
  • Notify the Pennsylvania State Police when the missing person is located.
This legislation also addresses the duties of the Pennsylvania State Police in conducting DNA analysis and confidentiality requirements.

According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, last year there were 635,155 missing person entries and 786 unidentified person entries. Despite scientific and technological advancements the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory struggles from a backlog of numerous DNA cases sent from Law Enforcement Agencies all over America.

While a few states have recently enacted similar legislation, the FBI’s case load continues to increase. The Forensic Lab has also categorized missing and unidentified person cases as a low priority. As a result the amount of time a parent has to wait to receive confirmation of the remains has adverse effects on the parent as well as the case. Since a large amount of unidentified and missing DNA cases are related to homicide, the longer the DNA results takes to be sent to the proper law enforcement agency, the higher the chance of the criminal escaping prosecution.

This legislation will clarify and expedite the process of cataloging the DNA of missing persons and will ultimately improve law enforcement in the Commonwealth. Further, this measure will help provide closure for the families of missing and unidentified persons, not only in the state of Pennsylvania, but across the United States.

Introduced as HB851