Those arrested for a felony and in some cases, a misdemeanor, may have to submit DNA samples in the near future, if the Wisconsin Department of Justice has its way.
It's part of a DOJ proposal written into the agency's 2013-2015 budget, with the idea of helping law enforcement solve more crimes.
Currently in the state, every convicted felon must submit a DNA sample after they're found guilty.
By making more criminal suspects and those convicted of misdemeanors submit their samples, police will have a bigger pool to match DNA found at crime scenes to those submitted to the statewide DNA database.
Though officers don't specifically look for DNA at a crime scene, they do look for evidence that may contain DNA.
"DNA can be for any crime, if there's saliva, blood, body fluids, skin, hair that could be left behind," said Lt. Dale Wisnewski, of the Marathon County Sheriff's Dept.
Items that may contain DNA are sent to the state crime lab in Madison, where technicians determine if there's DNA and then see if it matches any samples that have already been submitted to the database.
"The end result obviously would be, we would have more to draw from," Lt. Wisnewski said.
According to the DOJ, right now there are about 12,000 samples submitted in the state annually. Expanding who must submit a sample would mean an additional 68,000.
There are some concerns that collecting DNA from people who have not been convicted, only arrested, is unethical.
A spokesman for the ACLU told the Wisconsin State Journal that it turns the presumption of innocence on its head.
The budget for DNA collection at arrest is $2.1 million for the first year and more than $5 million for the second. Funds will go for additional work space, technology upgrades and 26 additional crime lab workers.
The proposal would also mandate a $250 surcharge for each case in which a conviction for a felony offense occurs and $150 for all other criminal cases.
The state Legislature will have to approve the budget before it becomes law, presumably in 2013. The law would then go into effect in Oct. 2014.
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