DENVER (AP) – An expansion of DNA collection for some misdemeanor convictions cleared the Colorado House Tuesday with wide support, despite trepidations from some lawmakers who said the sampling also would occur for minor, nonviolent crimes.
Denver Democratic Rep. Dan Pabon, the bill sponsor, urged his colleagues to support the proposal by recounting cases where rapists and murderers were caught, others who could have been caught had their DNA been collected, and instances where innocent people were exonerated.
“To say that this helps victims, it exonerates the innocent, solves cold cases, and prevents crimes is not hyperbole. This is serious,” Pabon said.
The bill passed the House on a 43-21 vote with bipartisan support. The Senate will now consider the bill.
Most states, including Colorado, already collect DNA in felony cases.
Pabon’s bill would apply only to Class 1 criminal misdemeanors, which include some assaults and thefts. But opponents expressed concern that criminal misdemeanors also include lesser offences, such as recording a film in a movie theater.
“The question for me, the reason I’m opposed to this bill, is from whom do we take it, and when, and why?” asked Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder. “And how far are going to go as a people in collecting data from people and storing it for some undesignated use?”
Opponents of the proposal said it went too far because DNA contains more identifying information about people than fingerprints.
“I think that goes down a road way too far in taking away our freedom and our privacies,” Levy said.
Colorado Springs Rep. Mark Waller, a prosecutor and the GOP’s House leader, said the bill would help law enforcement solve crimes.
“This is a very, very, very important bill for public safety in the state of Colorado,” he said.
The bill received support from district attorneys and opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, which raised privacy concerns.
Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, echoed those concerns and said DNA collection was of a bigger magnitude than taking someone’s fingerprint.
“DNA is the blueprint to your body,” he said.
LINK: Read The Bill
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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