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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 29, 2016 12:57 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 immensely helps to solve cold-case murders and other investigations statewide. According to state police officials, DNA hits from use of the database have the potential to be of great assistance to them in leading to arrests & convictions. In 2015, PSP had generated 591 hits to Pennsylvania offenders using the DNA database. By the end of 2016, PSP generated 588 hits to Pennsylvania offenders - making Pennsylvania a much 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 felony convictions. Additionally, at least 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 450 from the previous session. Co-sponsors included: Browne, Brewster and Vulakovich.

Introduced as SB398