DNA testing

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 LRC

New laws passed by this year’s Kentucky General Assembly go into effect next week. Legislation concerning child safety protection, DNA testing, and school dropouts are among the measures that go into effect Tuesday, June 25.

One of the new laws allows Kentucky school districts to raise their dropout age to 18 beginning in the 2015-16 school year. If, after four years, 55 percent of districts adopt the new rules, the new dropout age will go into effect for all districts.

Another new law will allow some felony offenders in prison or under state supervision to request testing and analysis of their DNA as case evidence.

A measure intended to strengthen child protection will also become law. The bill creates an independent review panel to investigate case of child deaths and near-fatal injuries in the commonwealth. That panel will also be given access to complete records of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, as well as information from law enforcement and other agencies.

A bill strengthening Kentucky’s human trafficking laws is also designed to protect victims from prosecution for crimes they were forced to commit. The legislation passed during this year’s General Assembly will offer help to agencies responsible for helping human trafficking victims by creating a victim’s fund supported by penalties paid by those convicted of human trafficking.

Another law going into effect next Tuesday will require the Kentucky Board of Education to create a statewide evaluation system for all certified personnel.