Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the following statement upon the signing of the Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (H.R. 510) into law:
“I am extremely proud to see the bipartisan Rapid DNA Act, a product of the House Judiciary Committee, signed into law. While once taking days or weeks, DNA testing can now be completed in a matter of hours. However, a decades-old law prevents the use of Rapid DNA technology in many circumstances, which has created a growing backlog. The Rapid DNA Act remedies this problem so that police stations across the United States can use Rapid DNA technology to quickly identify violent suspects and free the innocent.
“I also want to thank Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner for his years of leadership on this important issue which is a significant component of the House Judiciary Committee’s ongoing efforts on criminal justice reform.”
Background: The bipartisan Rapid DNA Act, authored by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) updates current law to allow Rapid DNA analysis machines to be used at local police stations. Rapid DNA technology expedites DNA analysis for suspect identification purposes and allows local law enforcement to accurately identify a suspect in 90 minutes.
Unfortunately, current law – which was passed in the mid-90’s before the advent of Rapid DNA technology – is outdated and requires DNA samples to be shipped off to a state lab for analysis and communication with the database known as the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). This results in delays of weeks in getting information that can be obtained in less than two hours with Rapid DNA machines. This unnecessary delay has created huge backlogs that impact all crime investigations using forensics, not just forensics used for identification purposes.