Saturday, January 21, 2006


Jayann Sepich of Carlsbad has written an Op-Ed piece for the January 15, 2006, Albuquerque Journal. She is advocating “Katie’s Law,” a bill to be introduced by Rep. John Heaton, D-Carlsbad. The bill would require law enforcement officials to take DNA samples from persons who are arrested on felony charges, and the samples would be put in a state database. Katie, Ms. Sepich’s daughter, was raped and murdered in Las Cruces in 2003. It was then that Ms. Sepich learned that DNA samples were not taken routinely.

“Only the guilty would have any reason to fear DNA.”, Sepich stated. She claims that DNA technology can save lives, protect the innocent, and solve crime. In general, she is right. No need here to point out that some expert like Dr. Henry Lee of the OJ trial may muddy up the waters by simply saying, “Something is wrong here.” Ms. Sepich is right, but her stopping place is wrong. She would require New Mexicans to give a DNA sample for a law enforcement database. Fair play would extend that requirement to all of us.

Can we justify making a class of those arrested for felony? No conviction of a crime of violence, nor even a charge of a crime of violence. In a sense, this sampling is punishment, and in a sense it is preventive law enforcement. Assuming that the arrest is lawful, a reasonable and prudent police officer believed that the accused had committed a felony. Seems fair enough such a person should give up the DNA sample.

Would it not be fairer, however, to take the sample from us all? Much more effective; much more even handed. Search us all; not some of us; that is the fair thing to do (for example, at the airport).

Let every resident of New Mexico give up a sample. Meanwhile, let us support “Katie’s Law” as a start.

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