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Published: Thursday, 2/17/2005

State law to require DNA from all felons


COLUMBUS - DNA samples will be collected from all felons and those convicted of mostly sex-crime misdemeanors under a bill that Gov. Bob Taft has signed into law.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), is expected to boost the number of DNA samples from about 10,000 per year to 30,000, adding them to federal and state databases.

About 60,000 current inmates also will be required to submit samples, Attorney General Jim Petro said.

The new law, which takes effect in about 90 days, also will expand a program that compares DNA from unidentified human remains to a database of DNA samples submitted by families of missing persons.

"DNA is the most powerful crime-fighting tool we have at our disposal," said Mr. Petro, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2006.

Mouth swabs are used in Ohio to collect DNA from offenders.

Mr. Petro said Ohio began collecting DNA samples in 1996 from its most violent convicted felons. Six years later, the number of crimes included in the program was increased to 57.

Ohio will join 36 other states, including Michigan and Illinois, in collecting DNA samples from all convicted felons, Mr. Petro said.

Coroners will be required to submit all unidentified remains to the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation for DNA testing, Mr. Petro said.

Currently, only parents and children of missing persons can submit their DNA to be compared with DNA profiles from unidentified remains. Mr. Latta's bill enables additional blood relatives of missing persons to provide their DNA samples.

Also this week, Mr. Taft signed a bill into law that mirrors changes to the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The provisions, which were inserted into a bill sponsored by state Rep. Jim Hoops (R., Napoleon), will prevent more school districts from being placed into the "district improvement status" if they fail to make annual progress in even a single grade or subject.

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