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If Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs House Bill 3238, recently sent to his desk by the state legislature, it will mark a turning point in the national landscape on DNA collection from criminal suspects.

Illinois would be the 25th state in the union to allow a DNA sample to be collected from some people who are presumed to be innocent. Reaching the halfway point on state acceptance of such laws, coupled with a recent federal policy change in the same direction, is leading to a vastly expanded registry of genetic information.

From the perspective of the bill's many supporters -- it passed the House by a vote of 99 to 9, and the Senate 53 to 1 -- and of the state's prosecutorial apparatus, that's a good thing.

"DNA is the fingerprint of the 21st century and has proven to be an instrumental tool in convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent," said then-State Representative Susana Mendoza in a press release. Mendoza, who sponsored the bill, is now the Chicago city clerk. "This legislation is a huge step forward for...