Convicts who’re guilty of many aggravated misdemeanors in Iowa will have to submit a DNA sample after July 1, 2013. That’s when the bill Governor Terry Branstad signed into law today goes into effect.
“Justice is a balance and I believe that DNA is a valuable tool that can help us both convict people that have committed dangerous crimes and also exonerate people that have been convicted of crimes they didn’t commit,” Branstad told reporters.
Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield who is a retired state trooper, has been trying to pass this law since 2003.
“I’ve been opposed by the extreme left and the extreme right and this year we kind of whipped ‘em,” Baudler said after the bill was signed into law.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller predicted a “significant number of cases” will be solved with the DNA evidence that will be collected.
“We can look a little bit to New York. It’s a little different state, but it gives us some idea,” Miller told reporters. “Since 2006 when they went into the misdemeanor field, they solved and had matches for 965 cases — 51 of which were murder cases.”
People convicted of third offense drunk driving and aggravated misdemeanors involving assault, drug crimes and burglary in Iowa courts will now have to submit a DNA sample to authorities.
“The experience has been that for some sort of property crimes — larceny crimes — for some reason there is a significant match to violent crimes,” Miller said.
Felons in Iowa’s prison system have been required to submit their DNA for years. Supporters of expanding DNA collection to those guilty of aggravated misdemeanors say it may help solve some future crimes. Critics call it a violation of civil liberties, as the DNA evidence won’t be erased from the database once a criminal has paid his or her debt to society by serving their time, paying their fines to the court and paying restitution to their victims.