By Christina Ramey
INDIANAPOLIS – A bill that would require all those who are arrested on felony charges to submit a DNA sample passed the House by an 84-14 vote on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 322 would require that the DNA sample be gathered by a buccal, or cheek, swab. The DNA sample would not be shipped out for identification unless the individual was picked up on a felony arrest warrant or a court has found probable cause for the felony arrest.
If the person is acquitted of all felony charges, the charges are downgraded to misdemeanors, all felony charges are dropped, or no felony charges are filed within 365 days, then the DNA sample would be removed from the database.
Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, talking about why he supports the collection of DNA upon felony arrest. Photo by Christina Ramey, TheStatehouseFile.com
However, it’s up to the person who was arrested to get the DNA sample removed from the database by submitting a form to the prosecutor requesting that it be removed. It is the prosecutor’s responsibility to submit that order to police and get it removed.
Rep. Patrick Bauer, R-Indianapolis, supports the bill saying that since the bill has been passed in other states several hundred people who have been convicted of crimes such as rape and murder, have been found innocent because of DNA evidence.
“So, what this does is get the facts and truth out,” Bauer said.
Other lawmakers, like Rep. Thomas Washburne R-Inglefield, argued that the bill is unconstitutional.
“It looks to me that it is a suspension of search and when there’s suspension of search those violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution,” Washburne said.
The Supreme Court ruled that the taking of a DNA sample without cause is a violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure.
Washburne said that the only person that this bill would affect is an innocent person who has been arrested but not convicted. He also has concerns about the security of the DNA.
“When I think of the security concerns of the DNA databases and the wealth of information that’s contained in DNA it just makes me nervous,” Washburne said.
A person who uses the DNA database for purposes that are not authorized could be charged with a Level 6 felony.
What happens next is still being discussed. Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, author of the bill, hasn’t decided if she agrees with the changes made in the House or will work on a compromise..
Christina Ramey is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.