Senate passes DNA bill aimed to cut crime

A bill strengthening and modernizing Pennsylvania’s use of DNA technology to fight violent crime was approved on Monday, July 13, by the state Senate.

“Pennsylvania’s DNA database was created more than two decades ago and since that time, tremendous progress has been made with DNA science,” Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, said in a press release. “It’s time for Pennsylvania to catch up with the science. This bill will make our communities safer by getting violent criminals off the streets.”

Senate Bill 683, which was sponsored by Pileggi, will require individuals arrested for serious crimes to submit DNA samples, a process already used by more than half of the states and the federal government. In addition, the bill establishes privacy protections, an expungement process and new quality controls. It also authorizes a new type of DNA search to help identify suspects in unsolved crimes, the release said.

“This kind of law has been proven to solve violent crimes,” Pileggi said. “I hope Senate Bill 683 can be sent to the governor for his signature this year.”

Pillage cited the case of the killer known as the Kensington Strangler, who was arrested on felony drug charges in June 2010 – but no DNA sample was taken. “Later that year, three women were found raped and strangled to death. Numerous others were sexually assaulted but managed to escape their attacker,” Pileggi said. “Philadelphia police spent thousands of hours working to solve the case.”

Many months later, the man pleaded guilty to the felony drug charge and – because Pennsylvania’s current law does require post-conviction DNA samples – his DNA was collected. When it was processed, investigators found the match they were looking for. The man was convicted of the three murders and numerous other crimes and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

Senate Bill 683 is supported by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, and the national organization DNA Saves, the release said.

Senate Bill 683 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.



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