By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Sampling suspects for DNA may change in Oklahoma, if a former Tulsa police officer turned state legislator has his way. Representative Lucky Lamons is proposing a law that would collect DNA from people who are arrested for felonies. Right now, Oklahoma gets DNA from only those convicted of felonies. Lamons' measure is House Bill 1430.
Brittany Phillips was going to college, working part-time, and living in an apartment near the high school where she graduated and knew self-defense. Yet, someone raped and strangled her in 2004 and her killer has never been caught. Her mother, Maggie, travels the country in a car wrapped with Brittany's picture, educating people about crimes and laws.
"I don't believe, I'm not sure if we're ever going to find Britty's killer, but we have to keep pushing to change these laws," said Brittany's mother, Maggie Zingman.
One law she and other crime victims want changed is when DNA is collected. Oklahoma and most other states, take DNA when a person is convicted of a felony. Maggie and the others believe it should be done when a person is arrested.
"It's gonna save money. It saves time. Saves on police work. If we catch people at their second or third crime, there's not 20 unsolved cases that our detectives continue to work on," said Brittany's mother, Maggie Zingman.
For those worried it will unfairly profile African Americans, Maggie argues the opposite. She says more African Americans are imprisoned, but the numbers are more equal at arrest, so the DNA database would be more balanced if samples were taken then.
Lamons' bill requires DNA be collected from people arrested for felonies at booking.
The sample must be sent to the OSBI within 10 days and the person arrested must pay the $50 fee. Maggie likes it, but worries it won't get passed.
"I'm hearing some representatives won't pass DNA at arrest because it's an invasion of privacy," said Brittany's mother, Maggie Zingman.
Lamons' bill has a provision that if the person arrested is not convicted, they can request their DNA be expunged from the database and get their $50.
Another bill in the state legislature right now is nicknamed the Romeo and Juliet law.
Senate Bill 1021 says teenagers 14 to 18 years old who have consensual sex can still be prosecuted and punished, but will not have to register as a sex offender.