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Politics & Government

State Lawmakers Considering Expanding DNA Collection By Law Enforcement

A plan to expand the state’s DNA collection is under consideration by a state House committee.

The proposal would allow law enforcement to take DNA samples from people arrested for felonies and certain misdemeanor crimes before they are convicted.

Right now, state law allows only for such collection after conviction.

Supporters say the move would help close cases and exonerate innocent individuals.

But the state’s public DNA labs are already swamped, and Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. Scott Snyder is urging lawmakers to proceed with caution.  

"Failure to properly plan and fund any new legislation would potentially cripple the existing DNA laboratory system, creating larger backlogs than we experience today and adversely affecting our ability to adequately serve the criminal justice community and the citizens of the commonwealth," Snyder said.

Opponents echoed the warning.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania says if lawmakers want to help police solve crimes and exonerate innocent people, they should require them to adopt a number of best practices.

The bill has already passed in the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.