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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 14, 2015 04:13 PM
From: Senator Lisa M. Boscola
To: All Senate members
Subject: DNA Database Expansion (Katie's Law)
I plan to reintroduce my legislation in the near future that would require any individual arrested for a felony offense to provide a DNA sample to the state’s database. I invite you to join me as a co-sponsor of this bill.

In New Mexico, this legislation is known as ‘Katie’s Law’ in honor of Katie Sepich, a graduate student who was brutally raped and murdered in 2003. Despite the fact that the police were able to obtain DNA evidence in her case, Katie’s parents had to wait three long years until her killer was brought to justice. They were horrified to learn that the killer had been previously arrested on felony charges three months after her death, but disappeared after being released on bond and eluded prosecution in Katie’s case until December 2006. If he had been DNA tested after his initial first arrest, he likely would not have ever been let out on bail.

The goal of this bill is simple: to catch offenders when they come into contact with the justice system, and prevent them from harming anyone else. DNA testing recently helped to solve a cold-case murder in the Harrisburg area, and according to state police officials, they had over 730 'cold hits' or matches from early 2011 to mid-2012 when DNA samples from crime scenes were compared with DNA in the database. Additionally, those matches assist in investigations which can lead to further arrests and convictions, making Pennsylvania a safer place for everyone.

It is important to note that DNA sampling is a minimally invasive process, and can be used to rule out suspects as well as solve cases. In addition, Pennsylvania has been fingerprinting all felony arrestees since the late 1970s, however, fingerprint matching can be much less reliable than DNA testing, which identifies 13 points on a DNA strand and creates a 52-digit code that is specific to each individual who is not an identical twin.

All 50 states require DNA testing for convicted felons. Additionally, 29 states have enacted legislation to require DNA from certain felony arrestees, while even more states are in the process of considering such laws.

This is a reintroduction of SB 487 from the previous session. Co-sponsors included: BROWNE, VULAKOVICH, TEPLITZ, BREWSTER and WOZNIAK.

Introduced as SB450