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Senator French's SB 110 Signed into Law

Friday, May 14, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Parnell signed Senator Hollis French's Senate Bill 110 into law today at a ceremony at the State Crime Lab on Tudor Road in Anchorage.  SB 110 provides for DNA evidence retention for up to fifty years in order to make certain that the guilty can be prosecuted whenever they are located.  The bill also provides a mechanism for prisoners to get DNA tested in order to prove their innocence.  

The governor also signed into law SB222, dealing with sexual assault, child pornography, and domestic violence and HB 384, which updated the state's bail statutes.  

Senator French's remarks at the bill signing were as follows:

“One of the untold stories of this Legislative session is the bipartisan way in which many large issues were resolved.  The Legislature is working together, regardless of party, for the good of all Alaskans.

One of the best examples of this bipartisanship are these bills here today.  As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and as a former prosecutor, I welcome any idea or initiative that fights the plague of domestic violence and sex assault.  

Beginning in 1996, I spent six years working as a front line state prosecutor to hold offenders accountable for their actions.  I will work with anyone who wants to work on these issues.  Indeed, my office, the office of my counterpart in the House, Representative Jay Ramras, along with the Department of Law -- Attorney General Dan Sullivan, as well as Rick Svobodny, Sue McLean, and Annie Carpeneti, -- all worked very closely together on this package of bills.  Special mention should also be made of Representative Bill Stoltze, who helped bring the parties together.  

And I want to thank the Governor for his invitation to me to attend and speak here today.    There are some issues that should transcend politics and this is one of them.  

The bill I sponsored, SB 110, is designed to provide for collection and retention of DNA evidence, in order to catch the guilty and free the innocent.  The bill makes certain that evidence is retained -- safe and secure -- until a crime is solved, and also sets up a procedure so that prisoners, under some circumstances, can get DNA tested in order to assert a claim of innocence.  The bill carefully balances the need for finality in criminal cases against the possibility, however remote, that the wrong person was convicted for the crime.

DNA evidence is powerful.  Just ask Karen Foster.   Her daughter Bonnie Craig was an 18-year old college student in 1994.   Bonnie lived with her parents, she was a talented young lady who played the violin.  She was raped and beaten and she died of head injuries and hypothermia -- her body found in McHugh Creek.   Her accused killer, Kenneth Dion, who was in jail in New Hampshire on robbery charges, was finally located as a result of a DNA match made in 2007.  He had not been a suspect in the case and would otherwise have been identified

Again, thanks to all who helped make these bills law.  We all stand together here today in to fulfill our duty to make a better Alaska.”

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