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6/29/2022 Legislation to remove diversion programs from mandatory DNA collections becomes law
STATE HOUSE — Legislation introduced by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) and Rep. Leonela “Leo” Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) to remove diversion program participants from the list of those subject to mandatory DNA collections has become law.

A state law requiring that a DNA sample be taken for analysis from any person convicted of a crime of violence has been amended (2022-H 7713, 2022-S 2791) to remove the additional burden imposed on the state’s 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.

“Diversion programs are for people who, in the court’s opinion, have strayed off the right path but can put in the work to head back in the right direction. Diversion is rehabilitative and redemptive, and the main purpose of these programs is preventing recidivism,” said Senator Coyne, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We should be collecting DNA for those who are convicted, plead guilty or go to prison for a violent crime, but those who go to diversion are not in that category.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903