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3-Apr-2017

Response to Governor Wolf's sexual assault awareness month proclamation

Harrisburg, PA

Pennsylvania Governor Wolf proclaimed April 2017 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Governor cited Pennsylvania initiatives that "make a substantial difference in the awareness, reporting, and prevention of sexual assault." He said that "holding perpetrators who commit acts of violence responsible for their actions" reduces sexual assault.

DNA helps identify sexual assault perpetrators. Ideally, all DNA evidence should be used in solving sexual assault crimes. However, crime laboratory DNA methods often fail to interpret mixtures of two or more people (e.g., victim and perpetrator). Failed evidence cannot search DNA databases for perpetrators, nor can it help convict them for their actions.

To fulfill Governor's Wolf vision of better preventing sexual assault, government crime lab DNA data should be fully analyzed. Some labs choose simple analysis methods that fail to interpret evidence. Labs need to let others interpret their data when they cannot. The taxpayer has already paid for this existing data. Then better computer methods can analyze the lab's data, finding more DNA information that can solve sexual assault.

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