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Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.

These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.

Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.

About the bill

On Tuesday, law enforcement announced the arrest of Christopher Jaquell Williams, 25, of Harrisburg, in the shooting death of 35-year-old Rhyhiem Hodge in Carlisle two days earlier.

Officials credited a new piece of technology that allowed for a rapid DNA comparison between two samples in aiding in tying Williams to the crime scene.

A bill in the Pennsylvania Senate aims to expand the use of DNA testing to help police solve crimes.

Senate Bill 398, introduced by Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh County, would expand the pool of people who have to submit DNA samples to the state database.

Under current law, people convicted of certain misdemeanors and serious felonies must submit samples to be included in the database.

Boscola’s bill would expand those required to submit a DNA sample to include anyone arrested for a felony.

“The goal of this bill is simple: to catch offenders when they come into contact with the justice system, and prevent them from harming anyone else,” Boscola wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “DNA testing immensely helps to solve cold-case murders and other investigations statewide.”

Boscola wrote that Pennsylvania State Police generated more than 1,100 hits to Pennsylvania offenders between 2015 and 2016 with the current database.

Boscola compared the DNA collection process to defendants providing fingerprints when arrested.

At least 29 other states have laws requiring DNA collection at the time of their arrest for felonies, according to Boscola.

Email Joshua Vaughn at Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.


Cops & Courts Reporter

Crime & Courts Reporter at The Sentinel.