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California bill aims to allow DNA collection for misdemeanors after Prop. 47 flaw revealed

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California Assembly member Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), along with Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, crime victim’s families, and bill supporters, announced the introduction of AB 390.

The bill’s charter is to fix an unintended consequence of Proposition 47, which reduces certain drug possession and other felonies to misdemeanors.

Under AB 390, officials would be allowed to collect DNA samples of criminals convicted of crimes that were previously felonies but are now reclassified as misdemeanors.

CBS Sacramento reports, this measure is critical to solving cold-case files.

Shirley Derryberry’s 13-year-old sister Doris was killed in cold blood, and thanks to DNA samples, the case is no longer cold — it’s solved — and two cousins are linked to the crime.

Derryberry says the killers responsible for her sister’s vicious rape and murder would not be caught today because of Proposition 47, which became law in 2014.

Current laws allow police to collect DNA samples from felony suspects, and under Proposition 47, many violent crimes are reduced to misdemeanors, and there are far fewer DNA samples taken.

Cooper says he has a common sense solution. The former Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy says his proposed law would allow cops to collect DNA for crimes downgraded to misdemeanors.

“When those cold cases were solved … those homicides, rapes, vicious murders…. they were solved not from that case, they got solved because they got DNA from a theft crime, or drug crime,” said Cooper.

Assembly bill 16, DNA collection, is a reintroduction of Assembly bill 390, from Cooper’s first term. The bill failed in 2016, because critics argue, its unfair. The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice says, not all crimes are equal.

“The government cannot collect your DNA unless there’s good reason. Good justification. If they have evidence absolutely we understand that,” said Ignacio Hernandez, a lobbyist for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

Cooper contends the government is protecting criminals over victims.

“Here we are covering for a small percentage of the population,” said Cooper.

Cooper tells CBS Sacramento stories like the Derryberry’s are offer reason enough to change the law.

Shirely Derryberry’s sister never made it past middle school. And her parents died wondering who killed their little girl.
According to the CBS Sacramento story, Shirley Derryberry is scheduled to testify at the bill’s first committee hearing March 14.

 

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