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Criminal DNA Database Expansion Working In Alaska
by Rep. Tom Anderson


March 06, 2006
Monday PM

DNA testing, usually done through a simple mouth swab, is the fingerprinting of the 21st century. Through DNA analysis of blood, hair, fingernails, or skin left at crime scenes, investigators are able to connect perpetrators with their past crimes, or to exonerate those who are falsely accused. Three years ago, the State Legislature passed legislation to broadening Alaska's DNA collection laws. HB 49 required all persons, including adjudicated juveniles, convicted of felonies, crimes against a person, sexual misdemeanors, those who are required to register as sex offenders, and those currently incarcerated or on parole for these crimes will have their DNA entered into the statewide database. This change was followed in 2005 by HB 124, which gave the Department of Public Safety the tools to collect DNA, by reasonable force, when necessary, further increasing the samples submitted into the database.

The advantages of a forensic DNA database are undeniable. Assuming a database with a critical mass of data and a laboratory system capable of rapid crime scene sample analysis, the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) has the potential to be one of law enforcement's most powerful tools. Importantly, the database is most significant when no suspect exists or when a case is likely to go unsolved because of a lack of other evidence. The expanded database allows police to eliminate innocent parties or people having legitimate access to a crime scene.

Alaska's successes continue to mount, with the aid of federal funding from the National Institute of Justice, the number of DNA profiles from convicted offenders now in the database has more than tripled. The total funding for Alaska under NIJ's Convicted Offender Backlog Reduction Program is $280,175.00. The total number of samples processed under this program will be 8,500, and it is hoped Alaska will receive additional federal funds for this purpose under President Bush's National DNA Initiative.

Currently, Alaska's DNA database contains over 10,000 convicted offender DNA profiles. The expansion helps to increase the intelligence value of the database, thus making it a more powerful tool for solving crimes. This has had a tremendous impact on the number of cases being solved through the use of our DNA database. Last year alone, DNA profiles obtained from more than 90 different crime scenes around the state were matched back to known Alaskan convicted offenders. More than a third of these crimes involved sexual assault.

On a per capita basis, Alaska now has one of the most successful DNA databases in the nation and according to recent FBI statistics, has aided more investigations than 19 other states. One of Alaska's CODIS hits from last July involved matching an Alaskan convicted offender to a crime scene profile entered by the Oregon State Police from an attempted murder. The qualifying conviction for the Alaskan offender was a misdemeanor assault. This hit would not have happened if our database law had not been expanded to cover all crimes against a person.

I have made DNA database expansion my number one priority as a State Legislator. I am pleased to see these fruits coming to bear for the benefit of my constituents, fellow Alaskans and most importantly for the betterment of our children's future. As the State's database continues to grow, we can expect more cases to be solved through the use of DNA, making Alaska and Alaskans safer.

About: Rep. Tom Anderson (R) is a member of the 24th Alaska State Legislature representing District 19 - Anchorage.



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Ketchikan, Alaska