Criminal Justice Update
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Criminal Justice Update

From the Attorney General

Police Sgt. Mike Lang chased more than 100 leads while investigating the 2001 rape of a 14-year-old girl by a man who climbed through her bedroom window.

It was a hot night, and the windows were open. About 4 a.m., an intruder entered the girl’s bedroom, threatened to kill her family, and raped her. He got away. But his DNA didn’t.

Sgt. Lang got the break he needed in the case 10 years later when the man had to submit a DNA sample under the Ohio law authorizing collections from felony arrestees beginning in 2011. He had been arrested in the abduction of another teenage girl the day after the law took effect. Today — after pleading guilty to multiple charges, including two counts of rape — he is serving a 15-year prison term.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Maryland v. King affirmed the constitutionality of such DNA collections, validating a booking procedure practiced in Ohio and 27 other states as well as by the federal government.

As you know, Ohio began collecting DNA from felony arrestees on July 1, 2011. The move has nearly doubled the number of samples going into Ohio’s CODIS database. The database contained 539,564 DNA profiles July 1, 2013, including those of 74,865 arrestees. Since the law took effect, 1,039 arrestee profiles have hit to a forensic sample in the database, providing more evidence to solve crimes.

Laws authorizing the collection of felony arrestees’ DNA typically call for minimally intrusive cheek swabs as part of the booking process. I wholeheartedly agree with the Supreme Court’s majority that, just like fingerprinting and photographing, collecting DNA is a legitimate police booking procedure.

Authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the opinion mentioned our work to reduce Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab turnaround times as evidence that DNA collection is a highly effective law enforcement tool. Through increased staffing and automation, we have significantly lowered turnaround times in recent years. Within the CODIS unit, DNA samples were worked in an average of 10 days in June, down from 24 days when I took office.

As other attorneys general and I pointed out in supporting Maryland’s law, states’ ability to collect arrestees’ DNA helps protect communities from repeat offenders who jeopardize public safety and devastate innocent lives.

Very respectfully yours,

Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General