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December 1, 2009

Harsdorf/Hraychuck Testify on "DNA Saves" Bill

Bill would require DNA samples at time of felony arrest

[Wisconsin State Capitol]  State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and State Representative Ann Hraychuck (D-Balsam Lake) testified in support of their “DNA Saves” legislation (2009 Senate Bill 336) before a State Senate Committee on December 1.  “DNA Saves” would require DNA samples to be taken at the time of felony arrest to stop repeat violent criminals.

“Utilization of the technological advancements in DNA testing has proven to be a valuable tool for law enforcement,” said Hraychuck, a former Polk County Sheriff.   “DNA evidence not only saves costs for law enforcement agencies by expediting investigations, thereby preventing additional crimes, but it also exonerates those convicted of a crime they did not commit.”

 “Collecting DNA at the time of arrest will help law enforcement stop serial criminals,” said Senator Harsdorf.  “Just as law enforcement collects fingerprints and mug shots at the time of arrest, we should take a DNA sample.  It will save lives and save money.”

Harsdorf and Hraychuck were joined by national DNA Saves advocate Ms. Jayann Sepich.  Jayann and David Sepich’s daughter, Katie, was murdered in 2003.  Sepich related how DNA taken upon felony arrest stops serial rapists and murderers.  Sepich has joined state efforts throughout the nation to push to take DNA upon felony arrest after passing “Katie’s Law” in her home state of New Mexico.

“21 states have already taken steps to collect DNA upon felony arrest and it has proven to provide relief to families,” said Sepich.  “Wisconsin should take this opportunity to pass SB 336 to save lives, taxpayer money, and alleviate pain for victims’ families.”

Under the bill, if an arrestee is found not guilty, the charges are dismissed, or no charges are brought within one year of the arrest, the individual may request his/her DNA sample be expunged from the database.  This process is similar to the one set forth in state statutes for expunging fingerprint records.