ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state Department of Corrections has determined that DNA wasn’t collected as required from numerous state prison inmates, a lapse that hinders investigations into unsolved crimes.

A department audit determined that 138 inmates didn’t have their DNA collected because they fell between the cracks, television station KRQE ( ) reported Thursday.

Most of the 138 inmates were already in prison in 1997 when the state passed a law requiring the collection of DNA from all inmates convicted of felony crimes.

Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel said the audit was conducted after Santa Fe cold-case detectives recently wanted to check DNA of inmates who fit the profile of a killer of a 1985 murder. Some were found some did not have DNA samples on file.

“It was alarming,” Marcantel said. “It’s a public safety issue and that’s really the most important driver here.”

Marcantel said the 138 inmates were convicted of crimes that included drug trafficking, rape, murder and driving while intoxicated. It’s too soon to know whether DNA tests will show any committed additional offenses, he said.

Crews are being sent to prisons across the state to collect the missing DNA, Marcantel said. Three of the inmates have refused to allow the collection, so the department will now seek a court order to force compliance.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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