Want to read more? Subscribe Now or Sign In
Hide ( X )
  • THE CRIME REPORT - Your Complete Criminal Justice Resource

  • Investigative News Network
  • Welcome to the Crime Report. Today is

Inside Criminal Justice

Justice Officals Hear Call for National Expansion of DNA Collection

July 31, 2012 07:14:33 am
Comments (1)

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who served as a prosecutor for 25 years, gave a spirited pitch to criminal justice officials from around the U.S. yesterday to push for collecting DNA samples from everyone arrested for a felony.

New Mexico has been a leader in state passage of "Katie's Laws," named for Katie Sepich, who was murdered in New Mexico in 2003.

Sepich's assailant, Gabriel Avila, was charged with the crime three years later ---although he had been arrested in the meantime for other offenses, and a Sepich DNA sample was available.

Martinez, who prosecuted the case, said he could have been charged with the crime much sooner had the law been in effect. She spoke to the National Criminal Justice Association's annual national forum, which is being held near Albuquerque, N.M.

New Mexico passed a law in 2006 requiring those arrested for violent felonies to yield DNA samples. The law was expanded last year  to collect samples from all accused felons.

Martinez said the laws were passed only over the opposition of defense attorneys in the state legislature.

At Monday's session, she accused defense attorneys of "refusing to listen to common sense" on the issue of DNA collection, which she said also helps the innocent by making it possible to clear them of accusations more quickly.

About half the states now have passed versions of Katie's law, and a proposal in Congress would provide more funds to states for DNA collection from accused felons.

Martinez urged more activism by criminal-justice officials in seeking legislation that will "give law enforcement the tools [   ] that will make everyone's life easier and will hold people accountable, especially violent offenders."

She contended that in tight budget times, criminal-justice reform does not necessarily require lots more government funding.

The National Criminal Justice Association, which represents states and localities in Washington, D.C., and nationwide, concludes its three-day forum today with more than 200 in attendance.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and a Washington DC-based contributing editor of The Crime Report. He welcomes comments from readers.


« Article List

Posted by Mickey
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 11:16

Heard Governor Martinez speak at NCJA meeting and very impressed with her. Certainly understands the criminal justice system better than most governors. It was great to see an elected official deliver a moving and compelling speech without written notes.

TCR at a Glance

‘Doing the Right Thing’

q & a May 31, 2016

In a new book examining the data, three cops find the number of ‘unjustified’ police killings is smaller than the public thin...

The New Politics of the Drug War

special report May 26, 2016

As presidential candidates focus on the opioid epidemic, grassroots initiatives are transforming the national debate about drugs.

Life After Prison: Opting In or Opting Out

special report May 23, 2016

In Part 4 of our podcast series, Lorenzo Brooks faces the challenges of navigating a now-unfamiliar world he left behind when he went to ...