The Norman Transcript

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December 22, 2013

Should Oklahoma collect DNA of arrestees?

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Henderson said he worries about government having an attitude to “collect all this stuff on the off chance that we need it.”

He added that he thinks the issue of collecting arrestees’ DNA will wind up again before the Supreme Court.

In California, a legal brief filed in a challenge to the arrestee DNA law points out that the Maryland law considered by the high court covers only “a small set of very serious felonies” while California’s applies to all felonies.

Questions of cost

Cost could be a large barrier to expanding DNA collection.

Jolley’s bill did not set aside funding to pay for additional DNA tests, although “I think the state has to pay for the testing,” Jolley said. “I don’t think that’s something that the local law enforcement agencies should be expected to do.”

No state study has been conducted on the potentially higher costs.

“Clearly, when we talk about passing it, it will probably include language, ‘contingent on the availability of funding,’” Jolley said.

Ryan Porter, a forensic biology supervisor with the OSBI, said it costs $15.10 for the state’s crime lab to process a convicted-offender sample, and that is based only on the cost of materials.

Oklahoma now relies heavily on federal funding to handle DNA cases whose numbers have grown in part because law-enforcement agencies have increased their collection of crime-scene DNA evidence.

As of September, Oklahoma’s FBI-linked database had 116,977 profiles of individuals and 3,583 forensic profiles taken from crime scenes.

The OSBI is working with law enforcement groups to reduce the number of unnecessary crime-scene samples submitted by agencies.

J.D. Lindstrom, a DNA expert with OSBI, said in a research report last year to the National Institute of Justice that because of expanded DNA collection and no additional funding, the OSBI relies significantly on federal grants to pay for DNA analysis.

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