SLUG: 2-287616 DNA Profile / Terrorism (L-O)
TYPE= CORRESPONDENT REPORT
TITLE= DNA PROFILE / TERRORISM (L-O)
BYLINE= CHRISTINE ELLIOTT
INTRO: James Earl Patterson was executed in (the U-S state of) Virginia Thursday night. He is the first person ever in the United States to be killed for a crime because of a "cold hit" DNA match from a U-S database of convicted felons. As V-O-A's Christine Elliott reports, the database is a useful tool for bringing criminals like Patterson to justice . and the Attorney General says he wants to add suspected terrorists to the list.
TEXT: Since the state began collecting D-N-A samples of violent criminals, Virginia has had 684 "hits" to help solve crimes.
Robin Porter, the Deputy Director of Virginia's Division of Forensic Science, says the database helps both prosecutors and defense attorneys.
/// PORTER ACT ///
It has really helped both the prosecution to identify the criminal, and it also has proven very helpful for the defense in certain cases to exonerate (clear charges of) an individual that had been previously convicted when the technology wasn't available.
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All fifty states take D-N-A samples from convicted felons of violent crimes such as murder. The data is stored in the Combined D-N-A Index System, or CODIS. CODIS enables federal, state and local laboratories to compare D-N-A profiles electronically, and match D-N-A from crime scenes to convicted offenders.
Recently, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the government has taken D-N-A samples from the war detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for future use in the CODIS system.
/// ASHCROFT ACT ///
The Department of Justice is currently reviewing a legislative proposal that would allow these samples to be entered into the CODIS system. And that would assist law enforcement officials in the identification of those who might seek to harm the United States and U-S interest through terrorism, either now or in the future.
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Some civil liberties groups oppose the effort as an invasion of the detainees' privacy.
But Mr. Ashcroft argues that the government has upheld the civil liberties of the detainees. (SIGNED)
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