Proposal would require all arrestees to provide DNA samples

Current law requires samples from convicted felons

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana lawmakers are making another effort to try and pass legislation that would require all people arrested for criminal offenses to provide a DNA sample.

The U.S. Supreme Court approved collecting DNA samples from convicted criminals in all 50 states nearly 25 years ago. 

Indiana law requires all convicted felons to provide a DNA sample, but Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, wants to expand the database by requiring all arrested individuals to provide their DNA.

"It's been shown in other states that this does play a large role in law enforcement and is a quality tool. And technology has come so far so that someone's identity is protected," Merritt said.

In June 1989, then-18-year-old Lisa Joan Summers disappeared shortly after leaving work at a Wendy's restaurant near 38th Street and Lafayette Road.

Her abductor beat her, raped her, strangled her and left her body in a weed-covered lot near the interstate. For 17 years, the case went unsolved until a DNA sample linked David Ashworth to the crime.

A 2010 study by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis concluded that DNA collection from all arrested individuals would save Indiana taxpayers upwards of $60 million annually.

Because most criminals are repeat offenders, the criminal justice system would not only save in officer response times, but also in investigations, prosecutions and court time.

"Where there is no suspect, but we have a forensic unknown, a DNA sample from the suspect, the odds of hitting the database with more people who've been involved in crime is incrementally going to go up," Director of the Marion County Crime Lab Mike Medler said.

The Indiana State Police crime lab is the central repository for DNA collection throughout the state. The lab collects 18,000 new samples per year. It contains more than a quarter of a million DNA samples and over the past 17 years, it has helped law enforcement link nearly 4,200 suspects to crime scenes.

"With the real costs of having to get someone off the street and not committing that crime, it has a cost. And I think we ought to be spending money to make sure that people are safe," Merritt said.

DNA collection is no longer intrusive. It can be collected with a cotton swab of the mouth.

Under the measure that will go before the next session of the legislature, DNA collected from any individual not convicted of that crime will get their DNA back.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

Print this article Back to Top