Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that his lawfully owed DNA project identified 635 registered sex offenders who illegally failed to provide DNA samples after their criminal conviction.
Ferguson’s office is working with local law enforcement around the state to collect DNA samples from these offenders.
To date, law enforcement has collected hundreds of new DNA profiles from sex offenders under court order to provide their DNA.
Lawfully owed DNA is defined as a DNA sample from a qualifying criminal offender who should have their sample in the nationwide Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), but from whom a sample has never been collected or submitted to a lab for testing. Washington law requires all currently registered sex and kidnapping offenders to provide DNA samples. Some fail to comply with this part of their sentence.
The Attorney General’s office stated that at the time of their announcement, the project has resulted in 345 of the 635 registered sex offenders providing DNA samples to law enforcement.
In Grays Harbor, 5 offenders were identified. In Pacific County, 2 had owed DNA. According to the AG, all local offenders have now come into compliance.
Local law enforcement agencies working with Ferguson’s office determined that they could not collect samples from 225 of the 635 sex offenders who failed to provide samples.
Of these offenders;
- 107 died or left the state.
- 98 failed to register as sex offenders and their whereabouts are unknown.
- The remaining 20 are uncollectible for a variety of different reasons
DNA profiles from 65 sex offenders currently registered in four Washington counties (Clark, Columbia, Snohomish and Stevens) remain uncollected.
If they move, they are obligated to register at their new address. County sheriffs monitor registered sex offenders in their jurisdiction.
In October 2019, Ferguson announced that his office successfully won a grant from the Bureau of Justice to pursue lawfully owed DNA as part of his initiative to help the state clear its backlog of sexual assault kits and bring justice to survivors.
Washington state has not developed a consistent method for collecting DNA upon conviction. Instead, every county implements different procedures.
Six out of the 345 sex offender DNA profiles entered into CODIS as a result of the lawfully owed DNA project resulted in a “hit.” Thus far, no charges have been filed as a result of these CODIS “hits.”
By the end of the year, Ferguson’s office will announce another update on the project’s efforts collecting DNA for all violent offenders who lawfully owe DNA.