Posted: Sep 30, 2013 10:44 PM by Brin Merkley - MTN News
MISSOULA - Several new laws will be going into effect start October 1st, and one of them requires out of state sex offenders to provide a DNA sample.
Experts say the new legislation will help get the nearly 1500 DNA profiles of sex offenders living in Montana on file, along with an estimated 250 more from offenders who come in every year. We visited the state crime lab to find out what exactly this process looks like.
In the past, sexual and violent offenders who committed crimes out of state did not have to provide a DNA sample when they moved to Montana. But times are changing. Starting Tuesday, a new law (SB 213) requires sex offenders who are no longer supervised and who move into Montana to provide a DNA sample.
Forensics science division lab administrator Phil Kisey says they will then submit the samples into a national database. "Our hope is that this new collection will help us solve some unsolved crimes that would be the best outcome of it. You're rubbing the cheek sells from the inside of your cheek so in every cell there is some DNA and we now will take this and apply it to the filter paper card and if you left enough saliva on there, which it looks like you did, the pink part of the card will turn white and you can see just that area there, and in that area is where the DNA from your cheek samples is now bound so this card will get covered, we'll put the offenders name and identification information on the card, and then this card gets submitted to the crime lab for analysis.
After the samples are collected, they are brought back into the crime lab. Convicted offender cards are then brought into the crime lab and within a couple hours hundreds of new offender profiles are generated and submitted into the national data base.
"Those DNA profiles gets searched against unsolved crimes throughout the country and every once in a while we get lucky and we can identify a person whose left there DNA sample at a crime scene somewhere else. And sometimes we get offenders from other states that there profiles will match to our unsolved crimes so to date I think we've solved over 160 or so crimes just using our data base," said Kinsey.
The DNA samples will stay in the data base forever.
When we asked Kinsey how the work load would impact Montana's one and only crime lab, he said they are in a great position to make the transition happen almost seamlessly. Kinsey says they've received several federal grants to help pay for the DNA kits but the state will pay for them primarily.