Katie's Law Goes Federal
KREX News Room
WASHINGTON - Thanks in part to Congressman Scott Tipton, R-CO, the president has signed a bill into law that would enhance the DNA collection process among those arrested nationwide.
Katie's Law originates from a 2003 New Mexico murder case. DNA evidence helped find Katie Sepich's killer, which prompted advocates to push for legislation that would expand the use of DNA in investigations.
Laws at the time allowed DNA collection from only those convicted of a crime. Katie's Law made it legal for officials to collect DNA from anyone arrested, which is archived into a searchable database.
The law originally passed in Colo. in 2010. Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger told NewsChannel 5 on Friday it has significantly improved the state's ability to solve crimes and is necessary on a national level.
"If we don't have a specific suspect to look at, what we need is as many different DNA profiles in the database as possible. To compare an unknown profile from a crime scene, plug it into the database and the more millions of profiles that are in that database, the better shot we've got at solving this mystery crime," explained Hautzinger.
Those who oppose the bill say it is a violation of rights. However, Hautzinger emphasized that it is no more intrusive than when driver's license applicants provide fingerprints. In addition, he says the system is more accurate. DNA can serve to help a suspect by exonerating them, such as in the case of Robert Dewey.
Dewey was released from prison after more than 15 years when enhancements in DNA technology proved he was innocent of the murder and rape of a Palisade woman.
Tipton, who has pushed for a federal version of Katie's Law since being elected to congress, was an original co-sponsor of the federal bill, H.R. 6014.
It authorizes the Attorney General to award grants for states to implement minimum DNA collection standards and enhanced collection processes.
The bill includes a cut in federal spending to pay for implementation of the program, so there is no added cost to taxpayers.