Utah Legislature: Legislators approve DNA collection bill

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 13 2015 11:15 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers approved a bill that will expand a state program to collect DNA from people arrested for violent crimes.

Under SB277, DNA will be collected upon arrest, instead of after conviction, as it is currently. DNA only will be collected from individuals charged with violent felonies and will not be processed until a "probable cause" has been proved.

Supporters, including activist Ed Smart, father of kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart, claim the measure will convict more offenders and exonerate innocent people.

Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, said the DNA exonerates as much as it convicts.

"This is about protecting the innocent, not violent felons," he said.

But opponents feared the scope of the bill could still infringe on civil rights, potentially leading to mistrials.

"There is a significant risk if we head down this path," said Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, a former district court judge.

The bill passed the House 51-23. It now awaits the governor's signature.

— Josh Smith

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