DNA collection upon arrest, human trafficking, and post conviction DNA testing pass House panel

02/13/2013 04:03 PM

The House Judiciary Committee pushed through myriad bills Wednesday dealing with DNA collection from felons, increasing the penalties for human trafficking and extending domestic violence protections for dating partners.

HB89
, a bill which allows for the collection of DNA from all persons charged with a felony offense passed the panel with a unanimous vote. The legislation was brought before the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Louisville Democrat. Marzian was joined by Jan Sepich, who has championed this legislation across the nation and in Congress since the brutal murder of her daughter.

Sepich’s daughter, Katie, was raped and strangled, and her body was found set on fire in 2003. She was 22 years old. Katie fought back against her attacker, and DNA evidence – skin and blood – was found beneath her fingernails.

Jan Sepich began lobbying for a DNA repository of all suspects after she found out that it was against the law to collect that type of evidence. Sepich brought her fight to the federal government, and Katie’s law was passed in 2010. However, it is currently being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court.

It would cost around $30 per test, but several studies cited in Wednesday’s hearing said the testing could save money in the long run.

The panel heard more than one hour of testimony on the bill, including opposition from the ACLU and the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. Opponents of the bill asked the panel, “where do we draw the line” – implying presumed guilt upon arrest.

Human trafficking gets round two in the General Assembly

HB3, the human trafficking bill, also cleared the committee with a unanimous vote from the panel. The committee quickly adopted the bill, which passed the full House in the 2012 session but stalled in the Senate.

This version of the bill does have some changes from last year’s. Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris — the bill’s sponsor — said she and others co-sponsors has worked with all the concerned parties of the interim to reach a consensus on a passable piece of legislation.

The Human Trafficking bill takes special account to protect children from human trafficking crimes.

House version of post conviction DNA testing again passes committee

House Bill 41 unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee with little discussion from the panel.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, who has filed the same bill in the past several sessions. Senate Bill 23
, the Senate version of the bill which will allow for post conviction DNA testing passed the full Senate last week.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, told reporters Monday that he thought the bills would be able to pass the House, but that he did prefer some of the language in the House version of the bill.

Domestic violence protection to dating partners passes

Despite little discussion, the House Judiciary Committee approved Committee Chairman John Tilley’s bill to extend domestic violence protection orders to dating couples.

The measure was approved 10-0, but five lawmakers passed because of the lack of debate.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm joined cn|2 in December 2011 as a reporter for Pure Politics. Throughout his career, Nick has covered several big political stories up close, including interviewing President Barack Obama on the campaign trail back in 2008. Nick says he loves being at the forefront of Kentucky politics and working with the brightest journalists in the commonwealth. Follow Nick on Twitter @Nick_Storm. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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Comments

  • Bruce Layne wrote on February 14, 2013 12:15 PM :

    The first line of this article described the proposed practice as “DNA collection from felons”, but that’s NOT what this is. Felons have been convicted of a crime. This law would collect the DNA of everyone who had been arrested, even those later found innocent.

    An arrest is now essentially a conviction, after all of the loss of privacy, lawyer’s fees, lost wages, forfeited property, etc. Anyone can be arrested for anything, and the Just Us system grinds them up and spits them out. Arrests are politically motivated. It’s dangerous to be right when your government is wrong.

    We’re seeing the convergence of several very scary trends. The Kentucky Legislature has been trying to add two more levels of felonies, and then reclassify many class A and class B misdemeanors as class D and class E felonies. This is part of a national trend to make more people into felons, who lose their voting rights, their right to keep and bear arms, and the ability to be employed in most jobs. They join the growing ranks of second class citizens. Now add the scary trend of the government wanting our biometric data. Many jobs, even mundane jobs, now have lame justifications requiring finger prints to be recorded. Our DNA biometric data will be next.

    All of this nanny state data collection is being sold through fear mongering. Get someone to tell a horrific tale that shocks the conscience and then imply that if we give up our right to privacy and volunteer to be a suspect for every crime, this awful event could have somehow been avoided. Stop being scared into giving up our rights. Ask how an innocent person’s DNA markers on file would have prevented that vicious rape. It wouldn’t. Think about all of the ways your DNA could make it to a crime scene when you had nothing to do with the crime and see the wisdom of the constitutionally recognized right not to be compelled to testify against yourself.

    This is exactly how DNA collection was enacted in England. There were a series of rapes, and the police went door to door in a region, collecting DNA from all men. If you’re innocent, you have nothing to hide. If you don’t submit to DNA testing, then you’re a suspect. Guilty until proven innocent. It goes against the underlying principle of our legal system, spanning back to the signing of the Magna Carta.

    If you want to see where this invasive DNA registry is heading, watch the excellent dystopian movie GATTACA, and ask if that’s the future you want for our children. We are closer than most people realize.

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