Efforts to collect DNA samples would expand to include any adult or juvenile arrested on a felony charge — and anyone convicted of a crime — under a budget proposal Gov. Scott Walker announced Tuesday.

The $6 million expansion is part of a $14 million package of proposed law enforcement spending Walker unveiled as he hopscotched around the state with Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to promote his budget, to be unveiled next week.

Walker also announced plans to include a $3 million grant program, funded by the state, to allow GPS monitoring of certain people receiving first-time restraining orders who are found to be at higher-risk to cause serious harm. Walker first proposed expanding GPS monitoring late last year in the wake of several mass shootings, including one in October at a spa in Brookfield in which a man killed his wife and two other women soon after she obtained a restraining order against him after telling the court, "I don't want to die."

And the governor announced a nearly $1 million increase for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to add five employees to investigate child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.

"One of the basic functions of government is to ensure public safety and health," Walker said in a statement. "By enacting these initiatives, Wisconsin will reaffirm its commitment to public safety, protecting our children, and helping crime victims."

Walker's plans to expand DNA collection, which is currently only taken from convicted felons and those convicted of a handful of misdemeanors, raised the ire of civil liberties advocates and some Democrats.

"It's a government intrusion into the lives of innocent people — or people who haven't been convicted — that undermines the presumption of innocence," said Christopher Ahmuty, the Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.

Ahmuty said it would be better and more effective to fund better DNA collection at crime scenes.

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, also criticized Walker's criminal justice budget plans, which include a collection surcharge of $250 that felony offenders would pay and $200 for those facing other criminal cases.

"Rather than addressing problems within our system, the Governor proposes a large DNA surcharge," she said in a statement. "These surcharges are not solid revenues and should not be the sole source for funding our system."

Walker's proposal calls for $6 million in funding for local law enforcement to take DNA swabs of everyone arrested on felony charges, including juveniles; adults convicted of any misdemeanors; and people arrested on misdemeanors for prostitution, patronizing prostitution, pandering or endangering safety by using a dangerous weapon.

Under the proposal, DNA would also be taken at arrest for fourth-degree sexual assault, lewd and lascivious behavior, exposing genitals or pubic area and failure to provide a DNA specimen. Currently, DNA is taken at conviction for those offenses.

Under the plan, the state Department of Justice would have to purge all records and information upon written request if all charges requiring DNA samples were dismissed, if the person is found not guilty, if one year has passed since the arrest and the person hasn't been charged, or if a conviction has been reversed, set aside, or vacated.

"This gives us a tremendous increase in terms of the number of tools we have to fight crime and to prevent crime and — in the cases where crimes have been committed — to make that connection," Walker said Wednesday.

Local law enforcement leaders applauded Walker's DNA proposal.

"I would imagine a number of cases would get solved as a result," Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said of the proposal. "It doesn't create a huge additional burden on law enforcement."

But Mahoney said he didn't want an unfunded mandate. Van Hollen said at a news conference in Madison that the current rate of $20 per sample that the state pays to local departments will drop to $10 under the proposal.

If Walker's proposal is adopted, Mahoney said the Sheriff's Office would collect DNA from those required as part of the booking process at the Dane County Jail by swabbing the inside of a person's cheek, then send samples to the Crime Lab.

"It's not an invasive process," he said.

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray also has been a strong proponent of DNA collection upon felony arrest, said spokesman Joel DeSpain.

Wisconsin — which would likely collect 68,000 samples each year — would join 25 other states and the federal government in taking samples upon felony arrest, Walker said.

The governor also proposed moving most of the responsibilities of the Office of Justice Assistance to the state Justice Department in an effort to improve efficiency and replacing surcharge money with $4 million from the state's general fund to pay for grants to assist victims of sexual assault.

— State Journal reporter Sandy Cullen contributed to this report.

State Government Reporter for Wisconsin State Journal

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(17) comments


I thought that Walker didn't support stuff if there was uncertainty around it because of pending SCOTUS cases?

Well the constitutionality of pre-conviction DNA sampling is being reviewed by SCOTUS this session as potentially violating 4th Amendment search and seizure in the Maryland v. King case.

Where is the consistency?


Even more savings to the tax payer if DNA is taken from walker appointees BEFORE they begin their positions instead of after.


Scott Walker is one of those "small" government guys.


If we can take DNA samples from people merely accused of a crime-- that is, people not convicted of any crime-- then why don't we just take DNA samples from everyone so as to include the other people also not convicted of a crime?

Righties, are you prepared to give up DNA samples on demand, despite not being convicted of any crime?

Accusation is not guilt. Fine by me to collect samples from violent or sexual offenders who have been duly convicted, but if you are in favor of this proposal then you should be in favor of collecting DNA from everyone including YOU so that the benevolent state can lose, mishandle, leak, or misapply it. Trust the government with your DNA!

Benedict Ishkott
Benedict Ishkott

These newborn and reborn Righties don't give a squat about their rights being trampled upon... as long as the pain is egalitarian. Everyone's got to suffer as much or more as them. Sharing hurt is the one exception for Communism they'll make.

Mr LaMarr

One used to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The DNA collection can wait until after the conviction. I thought the party of NO was for less intrusive govt? Of course trans vaginal ultrasounds threw that theory out the window. What a bunch of hypocrites!


Sweet. Now we do paternity testing. Help sporting young men accept financial responsibility.


It's ironoic because if the John Doe investigartion keeps proceeding, Scott Walker may have to give up a little DNA. At least we will know whether or not he is an actual human being:)

Comment deleted.

I am tagging you as a criminal sympathizer. I am all for due process, but I want people to face the music if they have committed a crime against children or women. Read the law jerk.


Great news and glad to see the right finally coming around. Tens of millions budgeted for police work and mental health, all in in support of public employees and the creation of state jobs.


It's only a matter of time before the Walker Derangement Syndrome folks tell us why this is a horrible idea and this money should be handed to the (I'll just choose a goofy lefty group here) Capital Singers for spending all of there time protesting instead of searching for a job...


No, the money will go to those who collect and test DNA sample - those horrible public workers in the Crime Lab.!! ;)


Don't be so sure- the money could be given to a private contractor who promises a big kickback to Scooter's campaign fund.

Benedict Ishkott
Benedict Ishkott

jwalk, wipe forward to back so you'll feel less itchy to fight. It's a tip you can pass onto Hogzilla.


Governor Walker supports appropriate measures to improve crime investigation and prevention. Criminal activity is often enabled by the lack of historical evidence to establish criminal intent. Expanding this technology will provide a criminal database more formidable for deterring crime.


I also think this is a good idea and applaud the Governor for this proposal which I hope becomes reality soon.


Great news!

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