Since the January inaction of an Indiana Senate bill that requires people arrested for a felony to log DNA , there have been 3,000 more DNA samples collected each month in 2018.
Of those, 244 DNA matches are related to criminal investigations. These matches have led to the arrest and conclusions of criminal investigations.
The Indiana Legislature passed SEA 322 during the 2017 session in April which requires every person arrested for a felony after Dec. 31, 2017, to submit a DNA sample to the state police laboratory. Indiana is among 30 states that have passed similar laws, and according to a 2009 study, Indiana taxpayers may save over $60 million a year because of such laws.
After samples are collected at a jail, they are sent to the Indiana State Police Laboratory in Indianapolis for processing and are then submitted to the Combined DNA Index System database, or CODIS.
The CODIS database is the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s program for DNA databases and the software that runs them. DNA is sent through the database where matches are made to confirm the DNA found has any connection with other samples within the database.
Capt. David Bursten, chief public information officer of the Indiana State Police, said over email the use and collection of DNA is present in the vast majority of violent crimes and sex crimes where an interaction has occurred between a victim and a suspect.
Before the new bill, Bursten said the ISP laboratory was uploading over 1,000 new DNA profiles each month into CODIS. With the new bill, DNA profiles are now up to 4,000 a month.
“The biggest issue will be evaluating what changes will be necessary related to manpower to analyze DNA samples for processing and inclusion into the CODIS database,” Bursten said.
According to FBI statistics, CODIS has produced over 415,135 matches which have assisted in over 399,179 investigations in the United States.
Sen. Erin Houchin, one of the authors of the bill, said over email that before the bill, Indiana did require DNA samples to be collected from felony convictions, but not for felony arrests. However, she said there was still room for improvement, which led to this new law.
“SEA 322 was drafted to give law enforcement the ability to utilize all available tools to identify criminals sooner in their cycle of crime, and bring more of them to justice, while also providing safeguards to ensure samples are not tested if an arrest is made without probable cause,” Houchin said.
This bill, Houchin said, gives law enforcement efficiency and the latest technology to bring criminals to justice and exonerate those wrongfully accused.
“Keeping our communities safe and giving law enforcement every tool they need to do their jobs efficiently and accurately is a top priority,” Houchin said.
Bursten said sometimes the DNA being analyzed may be insufficient, but said it is a rare event.
The bill has several more parts which explains why a DNA sample might be removed from the database including charges being dropped, no felony charges filed against a person with 365 days and if the person is acquitted of all charges.
Houchin said there isn’t anything else that needs to be improved legislatively in terms of DNA laws in the state.