Monday, January 3, 2011
New Bill: HB 48 - Fingerprints of Juveniles
Wording for my new bill has been published online. You can read the bill HERE.
One of my constituents works for Weber County CSI. He has been talking to me about this issue for several years. However, recently there has been story that has brought new urgency to this issue. Apparently, a perpetrator was recently booked into Weber County as an adult on burglary charges. Since this was his first time being booked as an adult, his fingerprints were taken and put into our state Bureau of Criminal Information's database. Once there, a search was run and it was discovered that his prints matched 10+ unsolved cases where prints were taken from the scene but no match was found from perpetrators who had been caught.
Yet, this perpetrator had been caught before. However, he was a juvenile when he was apprehended previously. So why didn't his fingerprints show up in the system? His prints simply weren't taken by law enforcement.
I discovered in my interviews with law enforcement personnel that there is a widely held belief that juvenile offenders CAN"T be fingerprinted. If you read the law, you can see that this belief simply isn't the case. Nevertheless, there is a superstition about this issue that seems to pervade law enforcement. Therefore, the current practice is to apprehend, issue a ticket or court date, and then release the juveniles back to their parents without getting any prints along the way.
This bill aims to remove any hesitation that now exists when fingerprinting juvenile offenders after apprehension. This bill also adds gang crimes as an offense worthy of fingerprinting.
There are several benefits to having fingerprints documented:
1. It will prevent crimes from occurring by identifying perpetrators early and allowing for apprehension more quickly.
2. It should decrease property damage and should decrease insurance rates due to a decrease in claims.
3. It will put pressure on gangs who use juveniles to do their bidding. Many young gang member earn "stripes" by committing offenses to gain recognition within their particular gang. You can read more about that here. These types of gangs know that juveniles have been shielded from fingerprinting. These types of activities will not longer be "protected".
Probably the most interesting part of this bill is that all the people, hardware, and paperwork is already in place to make it happen. This bill will give them the nod to go ahead and do their job. It will hopefully make for quieter streets and increase justice in our society.