Broward to start collecting DNA samples from felons
Forty percent of all suspects arrested in armed robbery have already committed rape or murder according to SPCoalition.org. This statistic alone is one reason why Broward County commissioners moved on Tuesday to initiate a pilot program to begin collecting DNA samples from everyone arrested on felony, or at least violent felony charges.
In a presentation, Karen Foster, who now lives in South Florida, asked commissioners to invest in DNA sampling. The state legislature made Florida the 20th state to pass legislation to collect DNA samples during arrests, but has not provided funding.The federal government has also begun a DNA project. Learn more here: http://www.dna.gov/.
Foster works with Surviving Parent Coalition, a non-profit that focuses on child safety programs.
Foster’s 18-year-old daughter, Bonnie was brutally raped and murdered in Alaska in 1994. In 2007, thirteen years later, investigators finally found a match through new DNA evidence. The case opened in November 2007, but still hasn’t gone to trial.
“He was arrested in 2003, and they could have gotten a match. In 12 years, it has cost over a million dollars,” said Foster to commissioners.
According to the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, 9,562 violent crimes occurred in Broward County in 2009. At $40 a sample, it could cost Broward $382,480. Last month, according to Broward commissioners, Broward had over 4,000 felony arrests.
According to documents presented by Broward commissioners, it would cost approximately $620,000 per year for staff and operating costs to test DNA samples from all arrestees booked into the jail (65,000/year) plus approximately $280,000 for start up costs (equipment). This would enable the Broward Sheriff’s Office to set up a local database to supplement the State’s data.
“We do run the jail, and we’re in charge of booking, so it’s within our realm,” said Commissioner John Rodstrom who introduced the item and moved to request that Sheriff Al Lamberti start DNA testing and come back with a plan, focusing on felonies, particularly violent felonies.
The county voted unanimously to use the Law Enforcement Trust Fund to set up the pilot program for the first year and come back later to expand the program.
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In this day and age it is the most cost effective aspect of Law Enforcement that we can do. I feel like we have been operating on a cave man type protocol when it comes to ridding our streets of bad guys. These revolving door bad guys not only take away any semblance of a western society, the sheer cost of shuffling them thru Corrections has us chasing our tails. We are long over due for this program and not only should we actively support it, we should demand it.
The Surviving Parents Coalition suffers from a severe case of stat inflation. They are a lobbyist group, NOT child victim advocates. Why are they asking money to lobby for laws already on the books? There’s something fishy about that group. Mark Lunsford is a member, that already says a lot.