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House passes DNA bill, but Senate may run out of time

Senate Impeachment Committee Begins Hearing For District Judge Porteous

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Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) says "Katie's Law" is designed to catch suspects who are falling through investigative cracks.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed “Katie’s Law.” It’s named for a college student who was raped and murdered by a man who had been arrested numerous times, but not tied to her crime for several years because his DNA hadn’t been collected. The measure’s sponsor is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank, a former U.S. Attorney.

California already collects DNA from anyone arrested for a felony. Schiff says about half the states in the nation don’t.

"In those cases where it hasn’t been used," says Schiff, "people have gone on and murdered others or raped others and it’s just appalling that when we could take them off the street, when we could identify these people, that we don’t do it."

The bill provides funds to states for DNA collection kits to gather samples from those arrested for murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary and aggravated assault. It uses money already set aside to help reduce a backlog of DNA cases.

Schiff says that backlog has been greatly reduced.  A regional DNA lab — funded by $1.5 million in federal dollars — just opened in Glendale to serve the Foothill communities and take the strain off L.A. County labs.

A Senate version of Katie’s Law still awaits a floor vote. If it isn’t taken up before the end of the year, Schiff’s bill will have to be re-introduced in the new Congress. 

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