This final episode of the DNA season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Jayann Sepich, co-founder of the nonprofit organization DNA Saves, who discusses issues in collecting lawfully owed arrestee DNA, with a focus on expanding the DNA Database.
Jayann Sepich, who has no professional relationship with a criminal justice system, became motivated to campaign for the expansion of DNA collection to all arrestees as a result of the murder of her daughter. The DNA of her killer was determined from a sample of his blood found under her fingernails; however, no DNA match was obtained until 3 years after her daughter's murder. Ms. Sepich and her husband were shocked to learn that DNA databases accessed by law enforcement investigators at the time of the murder of their daughter were limited to convicted offenders who had committed specific types of crime. They were concerned that some states, including New Mexico where her daughter was murdered, are legislatively prevented from obtaining a DNA sample from arrestees. Ms. Sepich's concern is that this restriction not only prevents the earlier identification of offenders, but also can prevent crimes committed because the offender was not arrested and convicted sooner. The Sepichs were successful in stimulating support among law enforcement personnel and legislators in New Mexico that led to the legislative mandate requiring that DNA samples be obtained from arrestees. Their efforts have influenced other states to do the same. Some problems that may accompany DNA collection from arrestees for all types of crime are discussed, including privacy, cost, and logistics in expanding DNA databases to include all persons who have been arrested for any type of crime.
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