The Rapid DNA Act is part of the House Judiciary Committee’s criminal justice reform initiative

Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by voice vote the Rapid DNA Act of 2016 (H.R. 320). This bill is part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan criminal justice reform initiative.

The 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Unfortunately, current law – which was passed in the mid-90’s before the advent of Rapid DNA technology – is outdated and requires DNA samples to be shipped off to a state lab for analysis and communication with the database known as the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).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.

Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), praised today’s approval of the bill in the statements below.

Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner: “Keeping our communities safe is imperative to the health and success of this country and its citizens, which is why Rapid DNA technology is so important.  It’s an effective tool for law enforcement that will help quickly identify arrestees and offenders and reduce the overwhelming backlog in forensic DNA analysis. It will also make crime fighting efforts more efficient and helps prevent future crimes from occurring, which saves time, money, and the lives of individuals throughout the nation.”

Chairman Goodlatte: “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. Today, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to remedy this problem so that police stations across the United States can use Rapid DNA technology to quickly identify violent suspects and free the innocent. The House Judiciary Committee will continue to work on other issues facing the criminal justice system so that the Committee’s bipartisan initiative will be ready for consideration by the House.”