More and more investigators are learning that DNA evidence can make or break a case. The perfect example -- the brutal and senseless murder of Katie Sepich. Without DNA, investigators say they may have never caught Katie's killer.
And when Katie's parents realized what an important part DNA played in their daughter's case, they fought and won to change DNA laws in their home state of New Mexico. Now because of Katie's Law, felony arrestees will have to give a DNA sample when they are arrested, instead of waiting until they are convicted. If the law had been in affect at the time of Katie's murder, it likely would have taken investigators three months to solve the case, instead of three years.
To learn more about Katie's story, click here.
AMW Producer Jenna Naranjo shows you how
some prisons collect DNA samples.
Because of Katie's case and other cases like it, detectives and lawmakers all over the country are taking a closer look at DNA, because of its powerful affect on our nation's criminal justice system.
While states like New Mexico have recently changed their DNA laws to mandate all felony arestees to give a DNA sample, other states still wait to take DNA until a person is convicted of the crime that he or she is charged with.
Proponents of DNA-upon-arrest laws believe that such legislation is the answer to solving crimes faster and keeping repeat offenders off the streets. And although the law aims to solve and prevent crimes, not everyone agrees with it -- which is the reason it's not the law of the land.
The maps below detail the status of DNA laws across the country as of Sept. 29, 2007. For additional information, please visit www.katieslaw.org.