J. Tyler Franklin

As the Kentucky General Assembly gavels into session on Tuesday, an advocate is encouraging lawmakers to pass legislation that could help sexual assault victims find justice. 

Gretchen Hunt heads the Office of Victims Advocacy in the state Attorney General’s Office. 

She says Kentucky law enforcement should be taking DNA samples from suspects arrested for committing felony offenses.

The Kentucky Department of Corrections has released an action plan to remedy missing DNA samples from convicted felons.

An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General found that the department was missing more than 16,000 DNA samples from felons. The samples were required to be collected under a new state law. Those samples are used for forensic analysis in all manner of cases.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said the new, more stringent collection plan is already being implemented.

“We now have a multi-level review to ensure that DNA is collected prior to any type of release from custody. This could be an offender who serves out his sentence in prison, that multi-level review takes place to ensure that before he or she walks out that door, that the DNA has been collected.”

Lamb says the Department of Corrections will conduct an internal investigation into the issue without the assistance of the state auditor.

Kentucky House Passes Bill to Take DNA After Arrests

Feb 14, 2013

Police in Kentucky would take DNA samples from people arrested on felony charges under a bill approved  by the House Judiciary Committee.

If the measure is passed by the full Legislature, Kentucky would join the federal government and 25 other states that take DNA samples from felony arrestees, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The panel vote was unanimous. The measure will proceed to the full House for consideration.

Jefferson Democrat Mary Lou Marzian, who sponsored the bill, said federal grant money would be available to help cover startup costs, which would be between $1.3 and $1.6 million.