August 31, 2017

Rapid DNA

President Trump signed bipartisan legislation Aug. 18 that directs the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to issue standards and procedures for the use of fully automated processes, known as Rapid DNA, to analyze DNA samples. P.L. 115-50 (H.R. 510), the Rapid DNA Act of 2017, was cleared for the president by the Senate Aug. 1 after identical bills, H.R. 510 and S. 139, moved through Congress with strong support from both Republicans and Democrats. The legislation, which was introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) in the House, will help reduce the backlog of DNA samples and allow DNA results to be processed in under 90 minutes. “This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way in which arrested individuals are enrolled in the criminal justice system, shorten the time required for their DNA to be linked to unsolved crimes, and expedite the exoneration of innocent suspects by giving law enforcement officials a new system that meets FBI quality assurance standards to compare DNA samples collected at the time of an arrest to profiles in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS),” according to a news release issued by Sensenbrenner’s office. Sensenbrenner called Rapid DNA a “promising new technology” that will “save time and taxpayer dollars.” While the ABA has not taken a position specifically on Rapid DNA technology, the association approved policy in 2006 adopting the black letter ABA Criminal Justice Standards on DNA Evidence that include provisions supporting the prompt collection of DNA evidence and testing and interpreting such evidence in a timely manner.

 

Back to the August 2017 Washington Letter