Indiana does D.N.A. tests on 9,375 accused felons

Published: Apr. 17, 2018 at 5:26 PM EDT
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Statistics released today suggest that Indiana’s new D.N.A. testing law is a ‘hit.’

Indiana upped its crime fighting game in the first quarter of 2018. While the state has long done D.N.A. tests on convicted felons, this year it added accused felons to the list.

During the first three months of this year, in jails all across the state, it happened 9,375 times, one cotton swab at a time: Someone arrested for a felony crime had a D.N.A. sample taken.

72 times (or less than one percent of the time) the D.N.A. taken from an arrestee actually matched D.N.A. on file in a national data base of D.N.A. collected from crime scenes.

“It's really similar to taking a fingerprint. Right now, finger prints are taken and they go into a national database and sometimes there's hits there. So this is another form of identifier that could be used to investigate crimes and solve crimes and prevent crimes,” said Ind. Sen.Joseph Zakas, (R) Granger.

While matches have occurred in 44 of Indiana’s 92 counties, “It has not yet happened in St. Joseph County,” said Prosecutor Ken Cotter. “But I think it’s just a matter of time.

Prosecutor Cotter remains a big fan of doing D.N.A. tests sooner rather than later.

“It can take anywhere from about four months, to two years for a person to go through the criminal justice system. During that two year time period that's where somebody who is violent, if we didn't have this, could commit crime after crime after crime, not be caught, but because we have their D.N.A. when they're arrested, we're able to identify them right away,” Cotter said.

Constitutional questions about the practice of pre-conviction tests were settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in a split decision about five years ago.

The Indiana law does allow someone to get their D.N.A. removed from the national database if felony charges are dropped or reduced to misdemeanors.

9,375 arrestees were tested compared to 3,330 convicted felons during the first three months of 2018.

The first arrestee hit came two weeks into the program and matched to an unsolved rape investigation that began in 2016.

The national crime database generated hits between Indiana and 23 other states during the first quarter of 2018.