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Cold cases may become a thing of the past in Florida with new legislation mandating DNA submission from inmates


Florida – Florida has taken a significant step towards solving cold cases in the state as Governor Ron DeSantis signed new legislation, HB 533, into law last week. This legislative move is poised to bridge a crucial gap in the fight against unresolved crimes, promising hope and closure for numerous families.

The newly signed bill, effective immediately, mandates that all Florida inmates who have not previously provided DNA samples must do so by September 30. The current state law requires individuals arrested or convicted of various offenses—including sexual assault, murder, and burglary—to submit their DNA. These samples are crucial for law enforcement, aiding in the investigation of unsolved crimes by matching DNA found at crime scenes with those in the state’s database. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, this process results in over 4,500 hits annually, significantly aiding in crime resolution.

The bill’s Republican sponsors, Sen. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill and Rep. Tom Fabricio of Miami Lakes, have however pointed out a significant flaw. They pointed out that nearly half of Florida’s inmate population had evaded providing DNA samples due to gaps in the existing legislation. HB 533 aims to rectify this oversight, ensuring that DNA evidence from all incarcerated individuals in Florida is obtained. Rep. Fabricio emphasized the importance of this bill in bringing finality and closure to many families across Florida, highlighting its potential to significantly reduce the backlog of cold cases.

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The legislation received unanimous support from lawmakers, underscoring the broad consensus on the importance of using DNA technology in criminal justice. Ingoglia described the bill as “very important” yet “simple,” as it adds a single paragraph to the Florida Statutes. This amendment could have bolstered another proposal focused on making it easier for families of unsolved murder victims to reopen their cases, although that proposal saw little movement this year.

With 57,181 homicides recorded in Florida between 1965 and 2021 and 19,549 of these remaining unsolved, the impact of this legislation could be profound. By ensuring a more comprehensive DNA database, Florida aims to enhance its ability to solve crimes that have long remained mysteries, offering hope to families still seeking justice for their loved ones.

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