September 21, 2009
Harsdorf and Hraychuck Introducing "DNA Saves" Bill
Bill would require DNA samples at time of arrest
[Wisconsin State Capitol] State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and State Representative Ann Hraychuck (D-Balsam Lake) are introducing “DNA Saves” legislation that would require DNA samples to be taken at the time of arrest to expand tools for law enforcement to apprehend criminals and create a more streamlined process for collection.
“Just as law enforcement collects fingerprints and mug shots at the time of arrest, we should take a DNA sample,” said Harsdorf. “A change in state law will streamline the process and help law enforcement prevent serial offenders.”
“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.”
Harsdorf and Hraychuck have received positive feedback in the past months from state law enforcement groups and the Department of Justice while drafting this legislation.
“Collecting DNA samples at the opportune time will help law enforcement solve cold cases in a time efficient and taxpayer friendly manner,” added Hraychuck.
“Other states have taken the steps to collect DNA samples at arrest to stop repeat criminals,” said Harsdorf. “There is no need to let tragedies pile up before we effectively take advantage of these crime fighting tools.”
The issue has gained interest in light of the case involving alleged Wisconsin serial killer, Walter Ellis. Ellis did not have his DNA sample in the DNA databank even after a felony conviction, as currently required by law. It has been estimated that as many as 12,000 DNA samples were not properly in the DNA data bank. Public officials have suggested taking DNA samples at the time of arrest would be much easier administratively.
Under the “DNA Saves” legislation proposed by Harsdorf and Hraychuck, the collected DNA sample would remain in the DNA data bank if an individual is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor charge resulting from the arrest. If the individual is found not guilty or the charges are dropped, the individual may request that the DNA sample be expunged from the data bank. The Department of Justice, which administers the data bank, would be required to expunge the sample within thirty days of receiving the request.