‘Juli’s Law’ adds to police tools
Police have a new weapon in their arsenal on crime. The Arkansas State Legislature passed and the governor signed into law Act 974, better known as “Juli’s Law.” The statute requires the collection of a DNA sample at five offenses–capital murder, murder in the first degree, kidnapping, sexual assault in the first degree and sexual assault in the second degree.
Juli’s Law goes into effect on July 31. The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory will provide training and collection kits to local law enforcement agencies.
Assistant Police Chief Mike Allen the bill was sponsored said State Rep. Dawn Creekmore (Dist. 27) and co-sponsored by Dist. 53 Rep. Keith Ingram.
The law was named for Juli Busken, a twenty-one year old Venton woman who was attending the University of Oklahoma. She was kidnapped, raped and murdered in December, 1996. Allen said DNA helped solve the case eight years later.
“DNA has cleared a lot of people of crimes but it has helped us convict people of other crimes,” Allen said. “People who commit violent crimes tend to repeat those crimes. DNA helps law enforcement connect someone with a crime.”
The new law will require a DNA sample be taken at the time a suspect is arrested for any of the above crimes.
“It will be just like fingerprinting and taking the suspect’s picture,” Allen said. “Now we will have a DNA sample.”
All samples will be stored with the FBI’s CODIS Section which will then go into the federal law enforcement agency’s database. The FBI will provide any needed training to police agencies at its facility or at a designated site within a region of the state.
“This will allow us to connect with other jurisdictions,” Allen said. “It is something we have done a number of times over the years, but this will make it quicker and much more efficient.”
He said DNA evidence helped the West Memphis police connect a serial rapist to crimes in Louisville, Ky.
“DNA is the greatest thing to law enforcement. You can pull DNA off a bullet casing or from everywhere at a crime scene,” Allen said. “A conviction may come later depending on the prosecution, but this will streamline everything. It may even prevent another crime from being committed.”
Allen said Arkansas is the seventeenth state to implement such a law. He added the American Civil Liberties Union may challenge the Arkansas law, but the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld every similar law on the books.