Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduces Bill to Improve Processing and Analysis of DNA Samples for Law Enforcement Purposes

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Washington, D.C. — Senate Judiciary Committee members Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), together with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) introduced legislation today to enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to use DNA technology to solve crime and clear individuals from suspicion. Their bill, the Rapid DNA Act of 2015, updates federal law to take into account recent developments in DNA technology that allow law enforcement agencies to receive results from DNA samples in as little as two hours. Under current law, DNA samples collected at crime scenes and booking stations must be sent out to crime laboratories for analysis, a process that can take as long as two months. Recently developed “Rapid DNA” technology, however, can return results in two hours, enabling law enforcement to determine whether a suspect is wanted for an outstanding crime or has a connection to a crime scene while the suspect is still in custody.

The Rapid DNA Act of 2015 updates current law to allow DNA samples to be processed using Rapid DNA instruments located in booking stations and other approved locations. This change will enable law enforcement officials to more speedily obtain results to inform decisions about whether an individual in custody should be held or released. The bill further provides that Rapid DNA devices must be operated in accordance with standards and procedures issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in order to ensure the integrity of such devices and the accuracy of results.

“Rapid DNA technology offers the exciting prospect of faster results from DNA samples,” Senator Hatch said. “Rather than having to wait weeks or even months for results, law enforcement agencies will be able to know within two hours whether a suspect in custody is wanted for other crimes or has a connection to evidence at a crime scene. Rapid DNA technology will also help law enforcement more quickly exclude individuals from suspicion. This bill will enable officials to make faster, better-informed decisions about whether individuals in custody should be held or released and will help to keep dangerous criminals off our streets.”

“Rapid DNA will streamline DNA analysis, allowing our criminal justice system to work more fairly and efficiently,” said Senator Lee. “It will enable law enforcement to quickly eliminate innocent suspects and focus their investigations; and it will free resources for dedicated labs to analyze the growing back-log of DNA samples and rape kits in order to resolve unsolved crimes.”

“Rapid DNA is an important technology that can help us curb growing DNA backlogs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bill would give law enforcement the tools they need to identify suspects of violent crimes more quickly and accurately, while better protecting innocent men and women from being wrongfully accused.”

For more information on the Rapid DNA Act of 2015, the need for such legislation, and what the bill does, please click here.