AUGUSTA – A substantially retooled bill that would collect DNA samples from old felons who commit new misdemeanor crimes passed through the House and Senate without debate Friday.

It’ll face both bodies for a final vote next week.

Tammy Deraps of Auburn was there to lobby for LD 418, just in case. Deraps, a rape victim who had her cold case solved after her attacker handed over DNA years later because of a traffic violation, has been a vocal supporter of the bill.

Co-sponsor state Sen. John Nutting, D-Leeds, credited Deraps’ bravery for getting the legislation so far.

“I think the bill was in trouble in front of the (Criminal Justice and Public Safety) committee because the civil libertarians were there saying, ‘You can’t take DNA from felons,’ ” Nutting said. “When she stood up and said, ‘I’m from Maine, this happened to me, and because of a DNA sample taken in Virginia, my perpetrators are behind bars and I can move on,’ that had a huge effect on the committee, huge.”

Since 1996, Maine has collected DNA from people convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor sex crime. Originally, the bill wanted samples from everyone convicted prior to 1996, a task State Police called daunting and expensive.

Now, as proposed, if a person convicted of a new Class D or E crime has a pre-1996 felony in their past – meaning they aren’t already in the database – they’ll be asked for a sample. Not giving one will be a Class E crime.

Elliot Kollman, director of the State Police Crime Lab, said he doesn’t expect that to add many people to the database.

There are currently 7,432 people in Maine’s DNA database, with another 2,000 samples expected soon. Eighty percent of cases solved using the database involved property crimes, Kollman said.

People who don’t break the law don’t have to worry about being added, Nutting said. “You’re in charge of your own destiny.”

Deraps, a Lewiston native, was raped by two men 16 years ago in Virginia after being surprised in a dark parking lot. At separate trials last year, one was sentenced to 115 years, the other to three life sentences plus 10 years.

She said coming forward to share her story has been worth it. Comments from legislators Friday morning were supportive.

“It’s not a huge step, but it’s definitely one of those building block sort of things. Even a small step is important,” she said.

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