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05/21/2024 09:34 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: May 31, 2017 10:34 AM
From: Representative Ron Marsico
To: All House members
Subject: Expand DNA Profile Collection to M-1 and Certain M-2 Convictions
To bring closure to more victims of violence and modernize our current DNA law to reflect the advances in the science of forensic DNA typing, I intend to introduce legislation to permit the taking of DNA samples from those convicted of first degree misdemeanors and certain misdemeanors of the second degree.

Since the advent of DNA analysis and its value as an investigative tool have evolved, so has the science for recovery of samples, extraction of DNA material, analysis and application of results to solve crimes. Today, DNA samples can be taken by a swab of the person’s cheek, minimizing the intrusion that previously occurred when a blood draw was necessary. Usable crime scene DNA can now be identified from extremely small samples of tissue and blood, often with just a few skin cells from handling an item. Analysis of Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA can point to or eliminate relationships between a crime scene sample and a suspect by establishing paternal and maternal lines of the unknown contributor.

Every day, the state’s database and the national CODIS database are successfully used to solve new and “cold” cases, as well as to clear suspected persons who are, in fact, innocent. Yet every day, opportunities to solve serious crimes are missed because a search of DNA databases for a match to the profile of an unknown perpetrator fails to produce a “hit”. Part of the reason for this is our database, with few exceptions, includes only those convicted of felonies. In many cases, however, persons who have committed serious unsolved offenses fly below the radar with a prior criminal record for serious misdemeanors.

Since we do not have DNA resulting from those convictions, we are missing the opportunity to have a significant impact on solving crimes that today go “cold”. Just as an example of how valuable DNA from those convicted of misdemeanors can be, since 2012 when the State of New York instituted DNA collection for misdemeanor convictions, there have been 1875 “hits” on profiles obtained just from those convicted of low grade theft. Of these, matches were made in 357 sexual assaults, 246 robberies, 196 larcenies and 810 burglaries. DNA samples from simple assault convictions resulted in 803 matches, including 295 sexual assaults, 105 robberies and 231 burglaries. The expansion of the database has permitted many serious crimes to be solved and an arrest to be made more quickly, in many cases preventing the perpetrator from victimizing others.

I urge you to join me by co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB1523