Senate committee takes up Schuitmaker, Jones DNA bills

Next Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up measures requiring law enforcement to collect DNA samples from individuals arrested for committing a felony.

“This legislation is a critical law enforcement tool allowing for more accurate investigations that will not only identify suspects, but eliminate them as well,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, one of the bill sponsors. “A law enacted last session expanding DNA collection has already been extremely successful at solving numerous cold cases and keeping dangerous people off the streets.”

Public Act 127 of 2011, also sponsored by Schuitmaker, required collection of DNA samples from all incarcerated individuals who had yet to provide a sample, and from all new convicts within 90 days of entering the prison population.

Senate Bills 105, 106 and 107 would require the collection of a DNA sample from anyone arrested for committing or attempting to commit a felony. The legislation was introduced in January, but the committee has been waiting on the outcome of a United States Supreme Court decision before proceeding.

In the Maryland v. King Supreme Court decision, issued Monday, the court determined that collecting a sample of DNA is a legitimate police booking procedure, like fingerprinting or photographing, and is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The federal government and 28 states currently obtain the samples upon arrest.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, is also sponsoring the legislation.

“While it is important that we are solving cold case crimes such as rape and murder with these DNA samples, we also want to ensure that we are destroying the DNA record of individuals found to be innocent,” said Jones. 

The bills explicitly clarify that upon acquittal or a lack of conviction, the court will be responsible for ordering any record of the DNA sample destroyed.   

“This legislation is about making sure justice is done,” Schuitmaker said. “Far too many have suffered for far too long as their cases languished, unsolved, in the justice system. This legislation provides law enforcement with another tool that will help bring criminals to justice.”