Rape DNA backlog clearing, but prosecutions stall

By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — The testing of thousands of rape kits discovered in a Detroit Police Department evidence warehouse in 2009 has matched DNA to just over 1,000 people already in the Michigan State Police database, but officials now face the much bigger task of tracking down the offenders. Advocates, state legislators and the State Police say Detroit’s backlog of 11,000 rape kits is expected to be cleared by the end of the the year, but a lack of additional resources has stalled the progress of prosecutions. A shortage of money and manpower has advocates campaigning for more resources from local, state and federal levels. “Getting the kits tested does us no good if we don’t have the resources to find the victims and the perpetrators and get justice,” said Peg Tallet, chief community engagement officer for the Michigan Women’s Foundation and the Detroit initiative Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit). Enough SAID, which raised nearly $5 million from a mix of private individuals and public companies to help clear the DNA backlog, is now campaigning to raise more money to fund the prosecution efforts.

New law expands DNA collection from Michigan suspects

By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service
LANSING – Authorities in Michigan will soon begin collecting DNA samples when they arrest felony suspects under a new law that significantly expands the number of people required to give up such information. The law, which will take effect July 1, aims to increase the pool of samples investigators can use to match suspects with unsolved crimes. Under current law, DNA samples are required of people arrested for a violent felony, entering prison or convicted of specific felonies or misdemeanors. The new law will require samples at the time of arrest for any felony. Refusal to supply a DNA sample will be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Police want earlier collection of DNA evidence

By LAUREN GIBBONS
Capital News Service
LANSING — Proposed legislation that would allow collection of DNA samples at any felony arrest could change the nature of police work in Michigan, but advocacy groups are split on how much personal information is too much. Bills sponsored by Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, would allow on-scene investigators to collect DNA samples from suspects arrested for any felony. If passed, the bills would expand the state’s current DNA identification profiling system database. Currently, the law allows DNA collection of suspects at the time of arrest only for certain crimes, including assault, murder, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, robbery, indecent exposure and prostitution.