Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 Indiana Senate Bill 3 - DNA Samples of Juveniles - Legislation Part 14

Senator Zakas has introduced a bill that would a court to obtain a DNA sample from juveniles found to have committed certain offenses. At first blush these types of expansion of government data bases offend me. Upon careful consideration the DNA identifier can now be seen as the modern day fingerprint which was once highly regarded as a unique identifier which replace the 19th century physiology measurements that was the previous standard.

I do see two benefits to this bill which were likely not intended by the author and supporters. The first is related to its intended purpose which is an identifier of perpetrators of future crimes. The alternative benefit is its exclusion of suspects. Law enforcement, like any branch of human activity, seeks the easiest route to a conclusion. That is why there have been a great number a false convictions of people ultimately exonerated through DNA evidence. Rarely were these people strangers to the law enforcement community. Usually they were criminals who didn't commit the particular crime for which they were convicted. This bill would allow detectives to quickly eliminate these juveniles – who may fit the profile of the offender – from the list of suspects when there is clear DNA evidence of the perpetrator.

Senate Bill 0003 affects the following citations: IC 10-13; IC 31-37. The synopsis is as follows:
Juvenile DNA testing. Requires a juvenile court to order a child found to be a delinquent child for the commission of an act that, if committed by an adult, would be: (1) burglary; (2) residential entry; (3) a crime of violence; or (4) a sex offense; to provide a DNA sample to the agency having supervision of the child or to the county sheriff. Makes conforming amendments.

DNA is the new fingerprint. This bill is keeping criminal justice records consistent with the technology. Another potential benefit is that it may be able to act as a deterrent and possibly provide a child with an excuse to peers pressuring him to participate in a crime, not to get involved.

I would like to see a court having jurisdiction in a paternity or dissolution having access to the DNA sample. Counties that are part of the Odyssey System would be able to provide this information live to a judge on the bench. This would provide greater judicial economy in paternity proceedings as a parent seeking to establish or deny paternity would be able to supply a DNA sample and have paternity decided without having to obtain an additional sample from the child.

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