Legislators who support H.B. 1403, sponsored by Reps. Wil Neumann (R-Gaston), Pearl Burris-Floyd (R-Gaston), Darrell McCormick (R-Yadkin) and Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), which would require the collection of DNA upon arrest for all felonies and certain misdemeanors, have only focused on how it would exonerate the innocent.
What they have failed to mention is the potential financial aid the state would gain if the bill were passed.
All states currently receive funding for crime technology development, in the form of block grants from the federal government’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The program was created in 2004 as part of the Safe Streets Act, which earmarks over $1 billion in recurring funds each year for this grant program to the states and local governments. A clause in the Act permits additional appropriations for the Grant Program to be made as deemed “necessary.”
This $1 billion is distributed among the states according to a formula included in Section 505 of Title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The formula bases the size of each state’s grant according to the state’s population, the ratio its population represents to the whole population of the United States, and the number of violent crimes in the state.
The funding provided by these grants currently goes to every state to improve crime prevention technology. Currently, states that obtain DNA samples from offenders after conviction receive extra funding under the formula. If new federal legislation passes, however, this will change to include added benefits to states that require DNA samples be taken upon arrest.
H.R. 4614, a bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and currently before committee in the U.S. Senate, would introduce another amendment to Section 505 of Title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. This amendment would alter the current grant distribution formula so that any state requiring DNA collection upon arrest for murder, rape, sexual assault, or kidnapping receives a 5 percent increase in funds. If a state requires DNA testing for the aforementioned felonies plus burglary and aggravated assault, that state would receive a 10 percent increase in the funding it currently receives. Last year North Carolina received $13.7 million in total appropriations from this grant, not counting additional funding the state received for this purpose via the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. Based on this number we would receive $1.3 million in additional funds if both bills were signed into law.