Howard’s Juvenile DNA Collection Bill Passes PA House

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PENNSYLVANIA — State Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester, is celebrating the successful passage Thursday of H.B. 841 in the state House of Representatives. The legislation addresses the conflict arising from the excessive collection of juvenile DNA, prioritizing rehabilitation over punishment. Howard expresses gratitude to colleagues who shared the goal, pushing the bill forward to the state Senate.

House Bill 841 would restrict DNA collection from juveniles to those convicted, or adjudicated delinquent of, serious sexual and violent offenses such as murder and rape. The bill would also require the automatic expungement of DNA previously collected for juveniles at the time the applicable offense becomes eligible for expungement.

Currently, DNA is collected from juveniles for a host of felonies and misdemeanors, many minor. Howard said that DNA expungement is not automatic, leaving the burden on individuals whose requests are rarely granted, unlike the sealing of juvenile records as a matter of course.

“The juvenile justice system was intended to prioritize rehabilitation over punishment,” Howard said. “However, the overuse of juvenile DNA collection conflicts with the rehabilitative purposes of the juvenile system. My legislation gets rid of this conflict and instead further promotes rehabilitation, which is what our justice system should be focused on. I thank my colleagues for sharing this goal and pushing this bill to the state Senate.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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