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Indiana To Collect DNA On Everyone Arrested For Felony

Law enforcement officers in Indiana are to collect DNA from every person arrested for a felony, according to new legislation.

The practice will begin in 2018 and marks a significant departure from previous policies, according to the NWI Times.

DNA samples have up to now been collected only from people convicted of a felony offense. Under the new law, DNA will be gathered and entered into a database if a judge determines that the police had probable cause to arrest someone.

Probable cause is a much lower burden of proof compared to the proof of reasonable doubt required to convict someone of a crime.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the measure into law April 21 after it was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate and House.

"DNA profiling is an accurate, widely used tool that will help law enforcement solve crimes and convict those who are responsible," Republican State Sen. Erin Houchin, who sponsored the bill, told the Times.

More than half of all U.S. states allow some form of DNA collection.

But the measure proved divisive among Republicans, some of whom voted against it.

"This is no different than the government coming in your house looking for evidence to see if there's anything laying around that they might be able to put together to find out you committed another crime. There is no difference," State Sen. Mike Young said.

"Why can't we just do it the right way and get a warrant?" he added.

Referring to the killing of two girls in his district, State Sen. Brandt Hershman stated that the collection of DNA was a technological advancement that had to be exploited.

"I would hope that having DNA records might be the very thing that'd bring this vicious person to justice," added Hershman, according to the Associated Press. "Not only to potentially bring the vicious person to justice, but also ensure that we don't bring the wrong person to justice."

Spirited disputes have been ongoing in the Senate since earlier in April.

"We have strong differences on the constitutionality and whether we should take this step or not," Senate Leader David Long said during the debate. "I ask the body to please go sit down, take a vote on this and let's move on. We've got a lot of work to do today and one week left."

Opponents argued the measure was unconstitutional because it violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Sources: NWI Times, AP via South Bend Tribune / Photo credit: Muhraz/Wikimedia Commons

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