“Barbara Marumoto Image”
I am calling on the House Judiciary Committee to hold interim hearings to determine whether Hawaii should establish a statute to collect DNA samples from all class A and B felons.
Hawaii law now authorizes the collection of DNA samples only from violent felons.
Recently in Washington, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the President’s Initiative to Advance Justice through DNA Technology, which includes $1 billion in DNA funding over the next five years. The money can be used to deal with the backlog of DNA analyses as well as crime lab infrastructure.
Before Hawaii can receive any of this federal money, our DNA labs have to be improved, expanded and certified. We also need a statute that provides for collecting DNA samples from all felons.
Research in several states shows that more than half of rapists and other violent criminals began their criminal careers with property crimes.
If their DNA is in the system from their first felony offense, there will be higher rates of success in apprehending and convicting them for subsequent crimes.
Equally important, but less discussed, is the fact that DNA is extremely useful to exonerate the innocent and to identify missing persons in order to provide closure to their families, as we saw with victims of September 11th.
Without a statute authorizing DNA collection from all felons, Hawaii will miss out on the first round of these new federal dollars. Our state needs funds that could improve our DNA labs, train our police officers and help protect our citizens; we must move forward on collecting DNA samples from all convicted felons, violent and otherwise.
”’Barbara Marumoto is a Republican state Representative from the Kaimuki and Kahala districts.”’