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Pa. Senator Pushing Bill To Take DNA From Those Arrested For Serious Offenses

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing DNA testing of those arrested for serious crimes -- even without their consent -- has prompted state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi to push a bill to require that in Pennsylvania.

"That's something that we've not been on the cutting edge of in Pennsylvania," Pileggi told KDKA political editor Jon Delano, "and I thought it was time to bring our laws up to date and take advantage of this new technology."

Current state law requires DNA sampling upon conviction -- but Pileggi's bill would require police to do a mouth swab DNA test on arrest for "serious felonies, that would be assault, or a homicide charge or a rape charge, many sex offenses are in that category, and other charges for example, burglary," notes the senior Republican.

Most misdemeanors would not be covered -- and neither would routine traffic violations -- but forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht opposes this expansion of DNA testing to any arrests.

"I think it is intrusive. I think it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment against improper search and seizure. I think it opens up the door," says Wecht.

Pileggi disagrees -- and says if a citizen is found not guilty, his DNA is automatically expunged from the data base, and those whose charges are dropped can petition the court for expungement.

Pileggi says his bill has the support of law enforcement, although opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Local senators who have cosponsored the measure include PA Sens. Jay Costa, Tim Solobay, Randy Vulakovich, and Kim Ward.

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