West Virginia Senate OKs Outside DNA Testing

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia’s Senate has unanimously approved legislation intended to speed processing of DNA lab testing by authorizing the State Police to use outside contractors for criminal identification including rape kits.

The bill would give the Marshall University Forensic Science Center the first opportunity to do the work.

The legislation also authorizes the state’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Commission to establish timelines for handling rape kits collected by health care providers.

Sen. Mike Woelfel said currently the average delay for processing rape kits is 440 days.

It also would authorize correctional authorities to use “reasonable force” to get DNA samples from felons who decline to provide saliva swabs.

Their information is collected for the state database, where it can be matched against DNA taken from victims of rape and other crimes.