Now that Kentucky has nearly eliminated a backlog of untested rape kits, focus is shifting toward expanding the state’s DNA data base.
More than 400 DNA profiles have been entered into a national database and more than 170 have been linked to convicted felons.
Gretchen Hunt heads the Office of Victims Advocacy in the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office.
She thinks the state would have better success in prosecuting the cases if law enforcement took DNA samples from suspects at the time of their arrest.
Hunts says the state currently only collects DNA from convicted felons.
“So what happens is, you might have someone charged with a burglary again and again, and that charge gets amended down to a misdemeanor. We know that burglary is related to sexual assault, that it’s a strong predictor. And if we’re not collecting that DNA in felony arrests we’re missing a lot of the offenders.”
“There’s a lot of research and evidence showing that if we had that ability to basically do a swab of an individual, the same way we do a fingerprint check upon arrest, they would match other cases, and we would solve many of these rapes and homicides and violent crimes early in the process,” she said.
Hunt says she’d like to see the General Assembly expand DNA testing in 2018.
According to a national group that advocates for DNA testing laws, 30 states have adopted laws that require DNA samples from felony suspects.
Such measures have been introduced in previous legislative sessions in Kentucky, but so far those efforts have been unsuccessful.