Requiring DNA Testing Upon Felony Arrest
Katie Sepich was a vivacious, 22-year-old graduate student at New Mexico State University. In August 2003, she was brutally attacked just outside her home. She was raped, strangled, her body set on fire, and abandoned at an old dump site.
No strong suspects emerged in Katie's case, but skin and blood were found under her fingernails, leaving the attacker's DNA sample. This DNA profile was sent to the national DNA database system (called CODIS), where officials hoped a match would be made. When Katie's mother learned of the DNA evidence and database she replied, "They are arresting people every day, so soon we'll know who killed Katie." But the Sepiches later learned that most state laws do not allow law enforcement to take DNA for felony arrests. This was the beginning of the quest for "Katie’s Law."
Jayann and Dave Sepich, Katie's parents, began researching the role of DNA in solving crimes. At first they just wanted to find and punish the person who had murdered their daughter; but as they learned more about how DNA can solve crimes, they also learned it could do so much more–it can prevent crimes and save lives.
In January of 2006, "Katie's Bill," which requires DNA for most felony arrests for inclusion in the database, was passed by the New Mexico state legislature in only 30 days. The bill was signed into law in March 2006 and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2007. After passing "Katie’s Law" in New Mexico, Dave and Jayann dedicated themselves to getting similar legislation passed nationwide.
The Sepiches firmly believe that action by state legislators to require DNA from persons arrested for felony crimes will result in thousands of old crimes being solved. This process will prevent other innocent lives from being lost and will keep the innocent from being prosecuted for crimes they did not commit.
Why Should Your State Require DNA Upon Arrest?
SOLVE COLD CASES
More than 41,000 investigations aided in the U.S. through the national DNA database
Arrestee DNA testing can prevent crimes by providing early identification of serial offenders
ABSOLVE THE INNOCENT
Guarantees equal access to DNA testing for all felony arrests and minimizes wrongful incarcerations
MINIMIZE RACIAL BIAS
Forensic DNA databasing is blind to race and ensures accurate identification of suspects
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How Does Your State Measure Up?
All states require DNA for felony convictions. Now more than 27 states have passed a bill also requiring DNA for felony arrests. Those states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. (Update: May 2014)