By Jackson Bell, Los Angeles Times
GLENDALE Rep. Adam Schiff's (D-Glendale) bill to give local investigators increased access to federal DNA databases has been signed into law.
President Bush signed it into law Saturday. The law includes provisions written by Schiff that expands the national DNA database by allowing states to use lawfully obtained samples, along with allowing state and local law-enforcement agencies to compare their samples with national databases.
"DNA evidence is one of the most powerful tools we have to solve a lot of the unsolved murder, rape and violence-crime cases," Schiff said. "And through better use of DNA, we can take a lot of these criminals off the streets and give comfort to people who were victimized. It's a strong and smart step forward to improving safety."
The law also includes the Innocent Protection Act, which allows for those wrongly prosecuted to prove their innocence. In addition, it ensures proper legal representation of capital crime cases and provides grants to improve forensic technology.
The Debbie Smith Act, which is also part of the newly signed law, provides grants to states to increase education, testing and analysis of DNA evidence.
"Not only does it help convict those who are guilty and out walking the streets, it also exonerates those who have been wrongly convicted," Schiff said.
The use of DNA evidence has recently helped Glendale Police crack two sexual-assault cases that have been dormant for years.
"Basically, it's been an extremely valuable tool in apprehension and successful prosecution of numerous felony suspects in the city of Glendale and statewide," Sgt. Randy Osborne, who heads the department's assault detail, previously said. "I'm glad to see more support for it."
Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, also sponsored Proposition 69, titled the DNA Fingerprinting, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act, which will appear on California's ballot.
In April 2003, the congressman also introduced the DNA Database Enhancement Act.