House OKs Felix bill that would remove diversion programs from mandatory DNA collections


STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Leonela “Leo” Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) that would remove diversion program participants from the list of those subject to mandatory DNA collections.

Rhode Island state law requires that a DNA sample be taken for analysis from any person convicted of a crime of violence. This bill (2022-H 7713) would remove the additional burden imposed on our diversion programs that mandates them to collect an additional DNA sample. 

“Diversion programs play a critical role in the justice system, and as someone who personally benefited from attending a diversion program, I am proud to do my part to improve the system for participants and workers alike.” said Representative Felix, who introduced the bill at the behest of the Rhode Island Judiciary.  “The legislation requires these collections from those who either plead guilty, are convicted of a violent crime or have served time in prison for a violent crime. This is also a good cost-saving measure, since there is currently a massive backlog of DNA collections.”

Diversion programs are designed to offer an alternative to traditional conviction, sentencing or incarceration by providing eligible defendants with a framework of supervision and services to help them make informed decisions, engage in positive behavior, and reduce the risk of recidivism.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2022-S 2791) has been introduced by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).