By Christina Ramey
INDIANAPOLIS – A bill that would allow DNA samples to be collected upon a felony arrest passed the Indiana House with a 81-16 vote Tuesday.
House Bill 1577, if passed into law, would allow for DNA samples to be taken from those who have been arrested, instead of waiting until they been convicted of the felony. This subject has been debated by lawmakers for several years.
Current Indiana law allows a DNA sample to be collected when a person is convicted of a felony, not at the time of arrest. That’s what Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, hopes to change with his bill.
Rep. Thomas Washburn, R-Inglefield, voted against the bill and encouraged others to do so as well.
“This bill before you today only affects a person who is found to be not guilty,” Washburn said.
He also said the bill raises a constitutional issue. “Taking your DNA upon arrest is what the fourth amendment of Indiana’s article 1 section 11 was designed to guard against,” Rep. Washburn said.
Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, one of the lawmakers who voted for the bill, encouraged his fellow lawmakers to vote for the bill saying that it was a weapon to use against those who commit crimes.
“Rapists and murders do it over and over and we’ve now found a weapon to fight that,” Bauer said.
The bill will now move to the Senate.
Christina Ramey is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.