State lawmaker re-introduces Prop. 47 DNA fix for criminal investigations

by Placerville Newswire / Mar 14, 2017 / comments

Assemblyman Jim Cooper in Campaign Photo

[SacBee]

An Elk Grove lawmaker is reviving a 2015 effort to give law enforcement back powers to collect DNA evidence for crimes reclassified as misdemeanors under Proposition 47, approved by voters in 2014.

Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, today is expected to announce the re-introduction of a bill to allow police to collect DNA from people convicted of crimes previously classified as felonies, including low-level drug offenses, theft and forgery.

Assembly Bill 16 comes two years after a previous attempt by Cooper to fix what he has characterized as "unintended consequences" of Proposition 47, which law enforcement critics warned would make it harder to solve crimes. Cooper's past attempt failed in the Senate Public Safety committee in 2015.

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 47, granting more lenient sentences for those convicted of crimes such as theft and drug possession and reducing those crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, removing law enforcement agencies' ability in some cases to take the genetic information of suspects arrested for felonies. Cooper's bill would not affect people who have only been arrested, and it would apply exclusively to crimes whose sentences were affected by Proposition 47. It would leave sentencing rules intact.

"DNA evidence is an essential tool for law enforcement to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent," Cooper said in a statement. "It is indisputable that lesser public offenses of fraud, property crime and drug possession are linked to the more serious violent crimes of rape and murder. Bottom-line – AB 16 will help protect women, solve cold cases and protect the innocent."

The news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. in Room 127 of the Capitol.