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In my quest for getting support on the passage of DNA bills, I have been asked "Why do you have an interest in this?" Okay, it is time for my story.
Let me start back when I was in grade school. I walked a mile each way to school and several times different men would start circling the block in their cars either trying to get my attention or just staring at me. It would scare the devil out of me and I would run through neighborhoods to lose them. When I told my mom about this, she said turn around and write down their license plate number. It was a great idea, but I never was able to get over the urge to run. One time I was playing at a close by playfield with a couple of friends, and a man was on the other side of a high fence (exposed) saying "I will pay you $1 to watch me." This "following me in cars" continued througout high school.
When I was in my 30's I started receiving calls at my home and work (of a sexual nature) and it turned out to be a supervisor that had gotten home telephone numbers from a list that work provided. He called many women that worked in the office and in the end was transferred. The police probably should have been called.
I have been a volunteer for the Seattle Crisis Line and a Victim's Advocate for, what was at the time called, King County Rape Relief.
In July of 1995, one of my cousins was found murdered in Monroe, Washington (she had been badly beaten and I do not know what else) and the person that did it has not yet been found.
Those are more than enough reasons to want to do something about people that conduct sex crimes. So, I am supporting bills that expand the list of qualifying offenses; and trying to get a law passed, here in Washington State, like Katie's Law.
Washington State HB 1023 - 2007-08 provides for broader collection of DNA samples for the CODIS identification system. The following is the list of the "expansion of qualifying offenses" that is currently in the bill:
Animal Cruelty in the second degree;
Assault in the fourth degree;
Custodial Sexual Misconduct;
Failure to Register as a Sex Offender;
Malicious Mischief in the third degree;
Patronizing a Prostitute;
Possession of Stolen Property in the third degree;
Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the second degree;
Theft in the third degree;
Unlawful Harboring of a Minor and Criminal violations of a protection order.
Remember that these DNA samples are only taken after a person that is convicted. The sample is gathered via a cheek swab. The following is the recommended list of "Additional Qualifying Offenses" that I received from the Washington State CODIS Lab Administrator when I was on tour last week:
Animal cruelty in the second degree
Assault in the fourth degree
Custodial sexual misconduct in the second degree
Failure to register as a sex offender
Malicious mischief in the third degree
Possession of stolen property in the third degree
Sexual misconduct with a minor in the second degree
Theft in the third degree
Unlawful harboring of a minor
Aiming or discharging firearms, dangerous weapons
Criminal impersonation in the second degree
Domestic violence-any misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor crime committed by one family or household member against another
Duty in case of personal injury or death or damage to attended vehicle or another property
Escape in the third degree
Making or having burglar tools
Patronizing a prostitute
Possession of another's identification
Reckless burning in the second degree
Vehicle prowling in the second degree
Violation of court orders issued under chapter 26.50, 10.99, 26.09, 26.26, or 74.34, and foreign protection orders as defined in RCW wy.52.020
Weapons apparently capable of producing bodily harm
You probably noticed that some of these offenses do not have anything at all to do with sex crimes. Law enforcement research will show you that may times people involved with sex crimes have conducted other crimes in the past--some they call stepping stones (like animal cruelty).
And for you that do not know, the other law I am interested in, Katie's Law (still to be written here in Washington State), is to be able to take a DNA sample upon arrest. This not only saves lives, by finding people that are wanted for crimes elsewhere, it also clears people that are innocent. One of my representatives wrote back to me; "I strongly support the collection of DNA samples from persons convicted of the above crimes, but I would not advocate for the collection of DNA from persons simply arrested on felony charges. In order to preserve democracy, I believe it is critical that we continue to presume innocence until the accused is declared guilty by a court." The law has nothing to do with presuming someone is innocent or guilty. It is simply another tool, exactly like a fingerprint, used to see if the arrestee's DNA was found, dealing with a crime, elsewhere. Fingerprints are always taken whenever someone is arrested and there is no presumption of guilt.
We have a very liberal state here and I am getting "push-back" from people for reasons that are not valid. The information that goes into the CODIS national database has no more information than is on a fingerprint. There is not genetic information that an insurance company may be interested in--if someone uses that as an argument against this--they are just plain wrong. You cannot even look people up in the CODIS database if you know someone's name--it is not there!
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