Texas lawmakers pass bill that will expand DNA database

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX)- Texas lawmakers have passed a bill that will allow DNA samples to be taken during felony arrests. That sample will then be put in a national DNA database and run against existing unsolved crimes.

The Department of Public Safety estimates that obtaining DNA samples during intake would expand the database to more than 40,000 defendants per year.

Currently, there are steps that have to be taken in order for a defendant's DNA to be processed.

"We have to write up a probable cause statement, take it to the District Attorney, get their blessing on it, take it to the judge to get it signed, then execute the warrant," said Brazos County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jim Stewart.

This bill that is currently sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting approval would speed up that process.

"I’m going to take you to the jail. I’m going to take your photograph, I’m going to take your fingerprints, and under that law, I’m going to take a DNA sample," said Chief Deputy Stewart.

Some of the felony arrests that would allow law enforcement to obtain DNA samples during intake include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, continuous sexual abuse of a child, and human trafficking.

Brazos County District Attorney Jarvis Parsons says if this bill is approved, it would make solving unsolved cases much easier.

"That person's DNA would be going into a database very early on in the process, so it may not change so much for that particular case, but the bill is set up for unsolved crimes that the person may have done and they may have left DNA evidence at the scene," said Parsons.

Lawmakers say this will expand the database, bringing justice, and peace of mind for victims’ families

"If you ever sit down and talk with a family, it never goes away. They walk through life not knowing, not ever having any sort of closure. This right here at least gives them a chance to have some sort of closure,” Parsons said.

The bill states that if the defendant is acquitted or the case is dismissed, the court has to order the agency that collected the DNA to destroy the sample and records of the collection immediately.

The governor has until June 16 to veto or sign the bill into law.