Gov. Desantis Signs A Bill That Requires Prisoners To Give DNA Samples

Gov. Desantis Signs A Bill That Requires Prisoners To Give DNA Samples

Jacksonville, Florida — More than 20,000 cases in Florida have not been solved. In Duval County alone, there are close to 1,600 cases that have not been solved. That will change because Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed a bill to do so.

All prisoners are required by HB 533 to give a DNA sample. The non-profit group Project Cold Case in Jacksonville helps the families of victims whose crimes have never been solved. Ryan Backmann is the Executive Director and Founder of the organization. Backmann said that DNA testing has been very important in solving these cases in the last few years.

It keeps going up as technology improves and they can use smaller amounts of DNA, test evidence again, and use genetic genealogy.” Backmann said, “DNA really opens up a lot of possibilities for solving unsolved cases and cold cases.”

There are still a lot of unanswered crimes in the state, so Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 533 into law on March 22, 2024. All people who are in the care of the Florida Department of Corrections must give a DNA sample. At the moment, adults and teens who are booked into a local jail or state prison or found guilty of a felony or certain misdemeanors have to give a sample. However, not all prisoners have done this, which is why lawmakers passed this bill.

“These people have sometimes done wrong things in the past and not been punished for them. This will ensure that their DNA can be matched with DNA from other crimes that haven’t been solved yet, Bachmann said.

Ken Jefferson, a crime and safety expert for First Coast News, said that many cases go unsolved because police don’t have another sample to match DNA from a scene to.

There are many cases lying around us that’s gone cold simply because they have nothing to match with the DNA evidence that many have collected at the scene of crime,” he said.

The bill went into action right away, and the state will start looking at who still needs to give a sample. Backmann thinks that this will help more families say goodbye this year.

“It will take some time, but I think we’ll start to see some cases resolved. It probably won’t just be murders; there will be sexual assaults, aggravated batteries, and other crimes that have happened over the years and DNA evidence was left at the scene.” But until now, they haven’t had anyone with ties to the case, Backmann said.

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