Darneille named legislator of year for work on curbing sexual assaults

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OLYMPIA – For her record of combatting sexual assault and supporting victims of the crime, Rep. Jeannie Darneille of Tacoma, has been named a legislator of the year by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.

 In announcing the award, coalition spokeswoman Lonnie Johns-Brown praised Darneille’s “longstanding commitment to working on and supporting public policies and funding for victims of sexual assault.”

 The coalition specifically cited Darneille’s efforts to pass a bill that would mandate collection of a DNA sample from a felony suspect after the suspect’s arrest. The sample would then be checked against DNA evidence collected from unsolved-crime scenes. The bill was designed in large part to catch repeat offenders who rape and sexually assault women and children.

 The bill won approval from a House committee but failed to advance, leaving in place the current law allowing DNA collection from felons only after they are found guilty in court.

 “I’m very much honored by this award,” Darneille said. “I’ve become more and more convinced of the need to use whatever tools we have to protect women and children from these terrible crimes. DNA analysis is a great tool, and I won’t give up the fight.”

 Darneille has represented the 27th Legislative District in the state House since 2001.

 The coalition also honored a state senator as a legislator of the year: Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam.

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