LAO 2005-06 Budget Analysis: General Government

Analysis of the 2005-06 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2005

Proposition 69-DNA Collection

The administration proposes budget increases in three departments—the Department of Justice, California Department of Corrections (CDC), and California Youth Authority—in order to carryout provisions of Proposition 69 which expands state and local responsibilities for the collection of DNA samples from felons and some nonfelons. We review the Governor's proposals, identify overestimated funding requests, and recommend reducing the requested amounts in CDC and the Youth Authority. (Reduce Item 5240-001-0001 by $1,812,000 in 2004-05, and by $3,465,000 in 2005-06. Reduce Item 5460-001-0001 by $148,000 in 2005-06.)


In November 2004, California voters enacted Proposition 69 which significantly expands the state's collection of DNA samples from convicted felons and individuals arrested on suspicion of felony and some misdemeanor offenses. Figure 1 summarizes the major provisions of Proposition 69.

Implementation of Proposition 69

Budget Proposals. The Governor's budget proposes multiyear funding for the Department of Justice (DOJ), California Department of Corrections (CDC), and the Youth Authority. The departments' requests primarily reflect the costs of collecting and analyzing additional DNA samples. Specifically, CDC and the Youth Authority would require additional state resources to collect DNA from prisoners and wards currently in custody, as well as parolees, for crimes covered by the measure. In addition, DOJ would incur costs to hire and train staff and purchase equipment and supplies to process DNA samples in its labs. It also would incur costs for contracts with public or private labs to process DNA samples.

Figure 1

Major Provisions of Proposition 69
DNA Collection


Sample Collection Required. Requires that all convicted felons and some nonfelons, as well as individuals arrested for certain offenses, provide samples from the inner cheek cells of the mouth (known as a “buccal swab” sample).

General Fund Loan Required. Requires a General Fund loan of $7 million to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the implementation of the proposition’s provisions.

DNA Identification Fund. Increases criminal fines and other penalties ($1 for every $10) with revenues in the fund shared by the state and local governments, to support the expansion of DNA collection on an ongoing basis.

Contracting With Other DNA Labs Required. Requires DOJ to contract with public or private laboratories to process samples that it has not analyzed within six months of receipt.

Under Proposition 69, local law enforcement agencies are required to collect samples from all newly convicted felons. The state is required to collect samples from all current state inmates, wards, and parolees who were not sampled under prior law. Local costs for collecting samples from convicted felons and some nonfelons, as well as individuals arrested for certain offenses, are to be funded by the increased penalty revenues.

While some current- and budget-year funding is required to implement the measure, we have concerns regarding certain aspects of the Governor's request. We discuss each department's proposal, as well as our concerns and recommendations in more detail below.

DOJ Proposal Appears Reasonable

The DOJ operates the state's DNA laboratory at a cost of approximately $26 million annually. The DNA lab, located in Richmond , supports law enforcement activities at both the state and local levels. Specifically, the Richmond lab houses the Cal-DNA Databank and Missing Persons DNA programs. In fiscal year 2003-04, the latest year for which data are available, the DNA lab processed nearly 66,000 DNA samples.

Proposition 69 requires DOJ to store DNA profiles of convicted felons in a statewide DNA databank. The DNA profiles are also submitted by DOJ to the Combined DNA Index System, a national repository maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Governor's budget indicates that in the current year DOJ will require $11 million from the DNA Identification Fund, which includes a $7 million General Fund loan, and 37 positions to start implementation of Proposition 69. At the time this analysis was prepared, SB 22 (Migden) had been introduced to appropriate funds in the current year. For the budget year, the department is requesting $11.2 million from the DNA Identification Fund and 11 additional positions for a total of 48 permanent positions. The request would provide funding for the department to hire and train additional staff, purchase equipment and supplies, and contract with public or private labs for the processing of DNA samples. This funding will allow DOJ to process 65,000 DNA samples in the current year and 130,000 samples in the budget year.

Analyst's Recommendation. Based on our review of the department's proposal we believe that the department has reasonably projected the number of samples that it expects to receive and process. In addition, based on its projections, we think its hiring timeline is also reasonable. As a result, we recommend the Legislature approve the department's request to begin implementing Proposition 69 in the current year.

CDC and Youth Authority Proposals Are Overestimated

Prior law required the collection of DNA samples from felons convicted of serious and violent offenses. Approximately one-half of the state's current inmate, ward, and parolee populations have previously provided DNA samples. In general, most of the collected samples were from adult felons. Proposition 69 requires CDC and the Youth Authority to collect DNA samples from any inmates, wards, and parolees currently under their jurisdiction who were not sampled under prior law. Figure 2 shows the administration's estimates of the number of samples projected to be taken from inmates, wards, and parolees, and the total collection cost in each of the next three years.

Figure 2

Proposition 69
Estimated Number of Samples and Costs

2004‑05 Through 2006‑07



















































The CDC and Youth Authority request funding for health care, custody, and parole agent staff to collect DNA samples, as well as other related costs. While the departments will require additional funding to collect these samples, our review found that several of their proposals were overbudgeted.

Excess Health Care Costs. The CDC requests current-year funding for overtime costs for existing laboratory assistants in prisons to collect DNA samples from all inmates. Similarly, the Youth Authority requests funds to contract with a phlebotomist to collect samples from wards in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Currently, both departments use health care employees to collect DNA blood samples from inmates and wards. However, health care employees will not be required to collect these samples once prisons and Youth Authority facilities begin using buccal swab kits for DNA collection. The buccal swab kit includes a small instrument that is used to collect a sample of the inner cheek cells of the mouth and does not require that the collection be taken by a health care employee. At the time this analysis was prepared, DOJ reported that institutions will begin receiving buccal swab kits and the requisite training by March 2005, and sampling will begin immediately thereafter. Therefore, overtime funding for laboratory assistants and contract costs for a phlebotomist will not be needed for most inmate and ward samples because most inmates and wards will be sampled after the departments begin using the buccal swab kits. In fact, CDC's budget request implicitly acknowledges this by including funding for correctional officers to collect most inmate samples. We recommend a partial reduction of $286,000 in the current year related to CDC's request for laboratory assistant overtime and deletion of the Youth Authority's request to contract for a phlebotomist in the budget year, for a savings of approximately $28,000.

Excess Funding Requested for Inmate Samples. The CDC estimates that in the current year, it will collect 87,000 DNA samples from inmates. The department indicates that most of these samples will be collected in April in conjunction with its annual tuberculosis (TB) screening of all inmates. Based on our review, we think the projected number of required samples is reasonable. Additionally, the strategy of taking samples at the same time as TB tests has merit. We therefore have no concerns regarding the department's strategy related to the collection of inmate samples in the current year.

On the other hand, CDC's request for funding to collect inmate samples in 2005-06 and 2006-07 are not justified because it assumes that the department will be required to collect DNA samples from new inmates who are transferred to state prison from counties. However, Proposition 69 clearly requires counties to collect samples from all convicted felons, including those who will be sent to CDC starting on the effective date of the measure (November 2004). According to DOJ, counties have received the necessary training and buccal swab kits and are currently collecting samples from all eligible offenders. As a result, there should not be any new inmates entering CDC who have not provided a DNA sample. Therefore, CDC should not require any funds for DNA collection in prisons in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Based on this finding, we recommend that the Legislature delete the funding request of $1.2 million in 2005-06.

Cost of Postage Is Overestimated. Both departments propose funding to cover the cost of postage necessary to mail collected samples to DOJ. Based on our discussions with DOJ representatives, we believe the departments have overestimated the costs for postage because the buccal swab kits are smaller than existing kits and should be significantly less expensive to mail. Based on this finding, we recommend that the Legislature reduce CDC's funding for postage by $231,000 in the current year. In addition, we recommend that the Legislature reduce the Youth Authority's funding request for postage by approximately $6,000 in 2005-06.

CDC Revising Parole Collection Plan. The CDC's request includes funding for collection of parolee DNA samples. The department's proposal assumes that parole agents will refer parolees to county collection sites. The department estimates that this will result in significant overtime costs for parole agents to make and follow-up on the referrals. In addition, the state will likely have to reimburse counties for taking the DNA samples.

Based on more recent discussions with the department, it indicates that it is considering now a combination of approaches for the collection of parolee DNA samples. Alternative approaches consist of (1) having parole agents collect samples and (2) using a private contractor to collect samples in parole offices. We believe that using either of these alternative approaches would likely be less expensive than what the budget proposes. For example, having parole agents collect samples should not require reimbursements to counties or as much parole agent overtime. At the time this analysis was prepared, CDC had not provided our office with a revised plan for the collection of parolee DNA samples. Therefore, we recommend deletion of the current- and budget-year funding request related to parole agent overtime and reimbursements to counties until CDC provides a revised implementation plan and its estimated costs. This plan should include the number of parolee samples the department estimates will be collected using each alternative approach and the per-sample cost of each alternative.

The Youth Authority has indicated that it plans to collect buccal samples from parolees beginning in the budget year. The budget request assumes that parole agents will require overtime pay to collect the DNA samples from juvenile parolees. We think the workload can be absorbed within existing resources. Currently, parole agents collect drug test samples from parolees while they are performing their monthly parole contact visits in the field. One advantage of the buccal swab is its ease of use, which means that an agent could collect a parolee's sample during a routine visit and without the use of overtime. Therefore, we also recommend that the Legislature delete the Youth Authority's request for $119,000 in 2005-06 for parole agent overtime costs.

In addition to these proposed reductions, we recommend that the Legislature direct CDC and the Youth Authority to make adjustments to their 2006-07 budgets that are consistent with legislative action on their current- and budget-year requests.

Conclusion. The Governor's budget proposes funding in DOJ, CDC, and the Youth Authority to implement provisions of Proposition 69. While the departments will require some new funding to carry out this implementation, we believe these proposals include some unnecessary funding requests. We recommend reduction of the departments' budgets accordingly.

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