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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Letter to the Editor: Breakdown in communication not political

 While it is true that Walter Ellis' sample appears to have been taken from the wrong inmate by the Department of Corrections over 8 years ago, it is not true that the samples which the DNA Databank does not have but should have under the law is due to ""mismatches"" or ""incorrect filing."" Nor are they ""missing,"" as that term is commonly used. All indications are that the samples were never collected or sent to the DNA Databank in the first instance.

Offenders are under a mandatory duty to submit samples through county sheriffs, and when an offender is in the custody or supervision of the Department of Corrections, they are authorized to take or order the collection of the DNA sample. The Department of Justice receives information and employs scientists to develop profiles and manage the DNA Databank. By its nature, the DNA Databank and the crime lab must rely on the thoroughness of other agencies to submit identification samples and to submit crime scene evidence for forensic analysis. With regard to felon DNA samples, Attorney General Van Hollen concluded that the DNA Databank could no longer simply rely on the efforts of others and brought the issue to the attention of the Department of Corrections and the public. 

You are mistaken when you write that there are political concerns at play that caused a breakdown in communication. The problems with the collection of DNA from felons pre-dated Governor Doyle, pre-dated Attorney General Van Hollen, and was ongoing when the Governor's office and the Attorney General's office were held by the same party. It is communication across political lines initiated by Attorney General Van Hollen—not the lack of communication due to political differences—that has catalyzed a collection process that will make the DNA Databank more complete and enhance our ability to fight crime.

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 The Office of J.B. Van Hollen, Attorney General





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