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Kennedy applauds new DNA testing law in Illinois

Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for Lake County State’s Attorney, applauded Governor Quinn and sponsors of Illinois’ new law requiring sex offenders and those arrested for violent crimes to be tested for DNA before trial and conviction. Public Act 97-383 will require all registered sex offenders and all persons arrested for serious, violent or sex crimes to provide a DNA sample even before a conviction is entered. The law takes effect January 1, 2012, and applies to all registered sex offenders, regardless of when or where they were convicted, and will apply to all violent crime arrestees whose cases were indicted by a grand jury or after a judge finds probable cause to believe the arrestee committed one of the triggering offenses.

“This new law will help solve and prevent violent crimes and sexual offenses in Illinois,” said Kennedy, a former Lake County prosecutor, adding that the law will also help clear innocent people. Kennedy also called upon state officials to provide increased funding for the Illinois State Police Crime Lab to provide updated technology and to keep up with an expected increase in testing.

DNA testing has been the subject of several controversial Lake County cases recently, including the case of Jerry Hobbs. Hobbs was arrested in 2005 for the murder of his daughter and her friend. DNA testing in 2008 confirmed that the sample did not match Hobbs. In 2010, Hobbs was released after the DNA was matched to Jorge Torrez, who was under arrest in Virginia and charged with the 2009 murder of a Virginia woman.

Kennedy has called for the establishment of a Conviction Integrity Unit in Lake County, to review cases in which DNA evidence has been found not to match defendants. According to Kennedy, the unit will “not only review past DNA cases that have been reasonably questioned, but will closely monitor procedures throughout the investigation, charging, and prosecution phases of serious cases, in order to safeguard against wrongful convictions and ensure that the actual perpetrators are not free to commit more crimes.”

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