Bill proposal sparks criminal DNA debate

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- A new Senate bill proposed in Colorado is sparking a DNA debate. If passed into law, the bill would require anyone convicted of a misdemeanor to submit DNA samples.

Currently, only DNA of those convicted of felonies go into the state’s database. Some feel this bill will help solve crimes, and others feel it could be an invasion of privacy.

“I’m kind of on both sides of the street. I agree that it is an invasion of privacy, but I also have done some classes through the college on forensics, and I think it’s a great advancement in helping catch criminals that may have never crossed the radar before,” says local mom Kristy Schumacher.

Mesa County’s District Attorney, Pete Hautzinger, says the bill will help solve crime.

“The more samples, the more DNA profiles we can get in our database, the better chance we have of solving mysterious crime,” explains Hautzinger.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado says the bill goes too far and crosses the line of personal privacy.

“A fingerprint can give you a simple identity, but DNA can provide your genealogy. It can provide your medical history, so it can tell a lot more about your biography than a single fingerprint,” says Denise Maes of the ACLU.

Misdemeanors are less serious crimes. A person with a misdemeanor crime on their record may still be able to serve on a jury, practice all professions and vote. Opponents of the bill feel a misdemeanor conviction should not be grounds for a DNA swab.

“I think sometimes it’s going overboard having to get DNA tests for just misdemeanors because I have several, and they were all small stuff- they were not big crimes. I think there’s a lot bigger fish to fry,” said resident Tyler Austin.

Those in favor of the bill say it’s all about community safety and enforcing the law.

“It’s a good thing for everybody involved in this society except for violent criminals,” said Hautzinger.

“I just hope it passes and actually I think, I know it’s a good bill. Anything that will help our law enforcement people restore some kind of order,” said local Walter Joe Blanc.

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