Nebraska advances DNA testing invoice for violent crime circumstances | Politics

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Nebraska lawmakers on Friday approved a bill that would allow police to collect DNA samples from people charged but not yet convicted of violent crimes, despite objections to the civil ones Freedoms were raised.

Supporters compared the measure to a police fingerprint that was just arrested and said it could help resolve cold cases.

However, opponents railed against the proposal as a possible violation of the protection of the Constitution and anti-seizure protection, even though the US Supreme Court has upheld similar laws. Legislators moved the bill forward (30-11) through the first of three mandatory votes after overcoming a legislative filibuster in an attempt to block it.

“We’re going to make Nebraska a safer place with this bill,” said the sponsor, Senator Robert Hilkemann of Omaha.

Omaha Senator Steve Lathrop said collecting a DNA swab was not much different than fingerprinting a suspect who was just arrested. Lathrop, a lawyer and chairman of the legislature’s judicial committee, said the bill was about “catching the bad guys” accused of murder, kidnapping, assault, arson, sexual assault, robbery or break-in.

“It gets a little wrong when we say that we are trampling on people’s rights,” he said.

The bill would also require the removal of DNA evidence from the database if criminal charges are dismissed.

But Omaha Senator Justin Wayne said the move was akin to having police search a private home or computer, or even pulling a person’s blood without a search warrant, as is currently required. Supporters added a provision that would only allow DNA testing after a judge found a likely cause, but Wayne and others said that was not enough.

“This is a very, very scary, slippery slope we’re going down,” he said.

In Nebraska, people are required to undergo a DNA swab after being convicted of a crime. The sample is submitted to a national database which can then be used to link the criminal to other crimes.

Other senators questioned whether the requirement for DNA testing would increase the state’s existing backlog of sexual assault kits that have yet to be tested. Senator John Cavanaugh, who has served as public defense attorney in Omaha, said the move could add to the backlog depending on which sample authorities want to test first.

“We are overwhelming a system that is already overwhelmed,” he said.

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