A coalition of 29 Republicans and Democrats in the Iowa Senate has endorsed the idea of collecting DNA samples from people who’re convicted of some aggravated misdemeanors.
Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center who is a deputy sheriff, said it could help solve some “cold” cases and future crimes.
“Maybe, you know, three years from now there’s a burglary in your house, the person breaks the window, cuts their hand, I have DNA from that,” Sodders said.
Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, said it’s important to solve crimes, but collecting DNA from more and more people is a slippery slope.
“Why not take samples from everyone?” Quirmbach said. “…Why don’t we do better than that? Why don’t we take a DNA swab at the hospital when they’re born?”
Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, said felons do lose certain rights and liberties, but he’s not in favor of having people guilty of lesser crimes, like misdemeanors, have their DNA information kept forever.
“You commit a crime. You pay restitution. You fulfill all your obligations with regards to that crime. When do we allow you back into society? When do we give you all your rights back?” Chelgren asked. “When do we take you off the list?”
Senator Sodders defended the proposal.
“Remember, this is upon conviction,” Sodders said. “…These are serious, serious crimes. This isn’t a speeding ticket.”
Iowa law already calls for collecting DNA from felons. This bill would expand that to aggravated misdemeanors involving burglary, assault and drug crimes. However, it would not apply to other aggravated misdemeanor convictions for things like gambling or mishandling hazardous materials. Senators made a slight change in the proposal that must be voted upon and approved by the House before the bill can go to the governor.