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Collecting Lawfully Owed DNA

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2022
2 pages

This report provides the rationale for mandating and collecting DNA from offenders, and two "success" stories for such mandates in Michigan and California are described.


Investigators and prosecutors rely on matching DNA obtained in cases they are investigating with DNA samples in the federal Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The likelihood of obtaining such a match increases as CODIS becomes populated with more samples. Sexual assaults and other crimes are less likely to be solved if there is delay in collecting, testing, and uploading DNA samples to CODIS. Thus, collecting lawfully owed DNA from qualifying offenders contributes to a comprehensive approach to achieving sexual assault reform. Based on the type and time of an offense being investigated in relation to applicable state law, a DNA sample may be legally obtained from an offender for testing and upload into CODIS. It is important for an investigator to determine whether DNA collection can occur either via a court order or whether current legislation can be modified. The timing of DNA collection can also be critical n helping to solve other crimes. Possible reasons for lawfully owed DNA samples not being collected are listed. One "success" story occurred in 2011, and involved the Michigan Department of Corrections' collection of 5,000 lawfully owed inmate samples. The collected samples linked the inmates to 74 additional unsolved crimes. This action was possible because of amended laws. Another "success" story was an initiative in Sacramento County, California. It involved Project D3, which was an initiative to determine whether deceased inmates and parolees had qualifying offenses for the collection of their DNA and whether biological material existed from which to obtain a DNA sample. This led to linking the deceased inmates to unsolved murders.

Date Published: November 1, 2022