Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Virginia's DNA Databank Records 4,000th Hit

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch...

Hits keep coming for DNA databank
From Staff Reports
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Virginia's forensic DNA databank, the oldest state databank in the country, has recorded its 4,000th so-called hit.

A hit occurs when DNA found at a crime scene matches the profile of one of 277,000 offenders in the databank, or when DNA found at one crime scene matches DNA found at another.

According to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's office, the 4,000th hit matched an offender's DNA profile in Virginia's databank with a rape that occurred in California in 2002.

Virginia passed the country's first databank law in 1989. At first, all convicted sex offenders had to provide a DNA sample. In 1990, the law was changed to include all felons, and in 2003, individuals arrested in violent felonies were included.

It took the state 8 years to reach 1,000 hits; just 18 months longer to reach 2,000; and 2½ more years to double.

The number of convictions resulting from the hits is not known. But about 10 percent of the investigations assisted or solved by hits were homicides; 17 percent, sex crimes; and 10 percent, other violent crimes. About 55 percent involved property crimes.

Virginia's databank also has helped law enforcement in 31 states identify possible perpetrators in almost 400 criminal cases.

Peter Marone, director of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, said the number of people DNA testing has cleared of crimes - or prevented from being charged in the first place - is not known but would also likely number in the thousands.

"Roughly . . . 25 percent of the time when we have a named suspect, we eliminate them," Marone said.

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