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Calif. Plans to Force DNA Samples

April 9, 2002

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ State prison officials said Tuesday they plan by January to begin using reasonable force to take DNA samples from inmates, though a bill giving them that power stalled in a Senate committee.

More than 900 inmates have refused to provide samples to the state’s DNA database, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton.

One inmate was scheduled for parole Sept. 29, but hasn’t been released because he has refused to provide a sample.

More than 60,000 samples have been collected since 1999, many by prisoners who were on the verge of release, she said.

The state has sought court orders against more than 30 inmates that would let them take samples by force. All but two inmates relented when force was threatened, Thornton said.

However, pending regulations that should be ready by January would let the department take samples by force without a court order.

Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, a Democrat, delayed a Senate committee vote on a bill that could give prison officials the authority to act months earlier.

Burton and civil liberties groups said they’re concerned about what force would be considered reasonable, legal protections for officials who take the samples, and regulation of county jailers who would also be empowered to take DNA samples.

Senate Republican Leader James Brulte said 13 other states already allow taking samples by force.

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