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Missouri Senate OKs DNA Amendment

Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow laws requiring DNA collections from criminals to be applied retrospectively.

The Missouri Constitution forbids retrospective laws that mandate new restrictions or requirements based on past actions.

The sponsor, GOP Senator Matt Bartle of Lee's Summit, says an exception needs to be allowed for collecting DNA samples from criminals.

"The practical effect may very well be that people who've committed rapes and murders that we were able to solve by virtue of the fact that we had a DNA profiling system in place would walk free," says Bartle.

The state's prohibition on retrospective laws contributed to a recent State Supreme Court ruling that invalidated some sex offender restrictions. Supporters of the resolution fear that a similar ruling on Missouri's DNA program could result in convicted rapists and killers being set free.

Democratic Senator Jolie Justus of Kansas City voted no.

"I don't think there's any limit in the future what legislatures could add to the DNA profiling laws," says Justice.

The resolution passed on a voice vote. It needs one more vote by the full Senate before moving over to the Missouri House.

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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