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.