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House panel unanimously approves bill for collecting DNA samples during felony arrests

Posted at 3:48 PM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-13 17:45:37-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- A bill that would allow the collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony offense in Indiana passed its first hurdle Monday.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald (D-Avon) introduced HB 1577, which would allow Indiana to join the growing list of states that already collect DNA from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony.

DNA samples are currently collected from convicted felons, but those who support the new bill say that taking them at the time of arrest could help prevent future crimes.

The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on Monday with an 11-0 vote.

Similar bills have failed to pick up steam in the past two General Assemblies, but a renewed push for the change came after the December 2016 arrest of Damoine Wilcoxson.

RELATED | Son of murder victim joins effort to push for DNA collection during felony arrests

Police linked Wilcoxson to the September 2016 murder of John Clements, 82, of Zionsville, by a DNA sample collected in Ohio when he was arrested there for a different crime.

Clements’ son, Neal, joined the state’s effort to push for the DNA collection bill after the arrest of his father’s murderer.

If the bill is passed, DNA will go into the existing registry from anyone arrested for a felony offense. That DNA would be removed from the system if those charges get dropped, or a person is acquitted.

The bill will now advance to the full House. 

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