Missouri is the latest state to consider adopting a law that requires DNA collection for felony arrests. Some 25 states have already passed the measure, dubbed ‘Katie’s Law’.
The name comes from a 2003 case in which Katie Sepich was abducted, brutally raped, and killed outside of her New Mexico home. When it was made known that she had her attacker’s DNA under her fingernails, there was hope that her killer would be brought to justice. Unfortunately, his DNA wasn’t in any national database, so the family could only wait, reports the Richmond News.
Katie’s killer’s DNA was finally entered into a database 3 years later. He was identified as a result of a law making DNA collection mandatory.
Katie’s mother, Jayann Sepich, spoke on behalf of the new bill at the Missouri Senate Progress and Development Committee hearing.
“There is nothing more painful than losing a child,” she said. “[Passing this bill] would result in more samples and, frankly, more database hits. We’d be catching more criminals.”
Under Missouri’s current law, every individual who is 17 or above and is arrested for burglary, sex-related felonies, and certain felonies committed against a person must provide a biological sample for DNA profiling analysis. However, Katie’s Law requires every individual who is 17 or older who is arrested for any felony offense to provide a cheek swab for DNA profiling.
Katie’s Law has had prominent supporters, namely former President Barack Obama. However, opponents argue that this type of DNA collection is an infringement on privacy and the Fourth Amendment.
Peter Brill of Brill Legal Group, PC, in New York argues that Katie’s Law creates a “slippery slope” and that it’s wrong to collect DNA from thousands of people who haven’t had a trial, according to HG.org.
Jayann Sepich adamantly disagrees with opposers, saying the law actually prevents crimes and help exonerate the innocent.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the Sepich’s family’s position in a 2013 case, Maryland v. King, and upheld law enforcement’s right to collect DNA through a cheek swab upon arrest.
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