New Washington state directs storage of DNA evidence for 99 years in some cases

Governor Inslee signed a bill Monday that could put more guilty people in prison. Dan Frizzell reports DNA evidence has played a key role in U.S. court cases for almost three decades. In those 30 years genetic fingerprinting has helped convict thousands of murderers and rapists, and hundreds of wrongly convicted defendants are free today because of it. But even after all this time, many states haven’t bothered to set up basic policies on storing DNA evidence. Washington was one of them, but thanks to the governor’s signature on a bill sponsored by Representative Tina Orwall, that’s about to change.

We spoke with her just before the bill-signing on Monday afternoon. “It needs to be stored for years, because it may be that the case needs to be reviewed, or something has happened to bring light back to a case, and so it’s true for people who have been prosecuted, it’s also true for cold cases. We have cases that have sat on shelves for years, and we’re going to need that evidence to move forward.”
Orwall, a Democrat from Des Moines, wrote the bill to require DNA collected in violent felonies and sex offenses to be stored safely for 99 years in most cases, or at least until a convicted defendant has died or the statute of limitations for the crime has elapsed.

In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.

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