Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) expressed thanks to Governor Dunleavy, Department of Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom, and Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell for their commitment to collecting all lawful DNA samples from Alaskans arrested or convicted of a violent crime. HB 3003, supported by Representative Tarr, passed by the legislature, and signed by Governor Dunleavy, provides $1.1 million for this effort.
“We know through our Rape Kit Reform Initiative and the testing of the backlog of rape kits that DNA evidence can solve crimes and bring justice to Alaskans. DNA is considered the gold standard in evidence collection and is leading to convictions that make our communities safer. Just this summer, a DNA sample led to an arrest in a 1993 rape case. No Alaskan should have to wait decades for justice,” said Rep. Tarr.
Alaska state law requires a DNA sample be collected from anyone arrested or convicted for a felony and a crime against a person, but thousands of samples over the decades have never been collected. The new initiative will go back and collect those missed samples. These DNA samples can then be analyzed and matched to the FBI’s DNA database.
“More Alaskans will come forward to report a rape or sexual assault if they have confidence in the criminal justice system and know that their rape kit will be processed and offenders held accountable,” said Rep. Tarr. “This effort is an important step forward in improving public safety in Alaska. As a state, we must always collect DNA samples going forward. Every Alaskan has a right to live free of violence, and this work will prevent future assaults.”