Governor Scott Walker says his budget for the next two year inclues $6 million to fund the collection of DNA samples from felony suspects at the time they're arrested. Increasing the state's DNA database is something attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has been advocating for the past two years.
The DNA spending is part of a $14 million package of public safety initiatives the governor plans to fund. Some local law enforcement agencies have expressed doubts about the increased number of DNA samples their officers will now have to collect. But Van Hollen says the state will be picking up the tab at the rate of $10 per sample to help cover the extra staff time involved.
"That's above and beyond the fact that through the budget we will be paying for the actual kits and things, along those lines, and submission of the samples. This is part of the booking process. It takes a very insubstantial amount of time to wipe a swab through the inside of somebody's mouth."
Van Hollen says the pay off for the investment will be 68,000 more DNA samples sent to the crime lab; that should lead to more convictions as well as exonerations of people wrongly arrested or convicted. The governor's budget also will include $3 million more distributed to counties for GPS monitoring equipment. The governor says that will allow counties to take advantage of a new law that allows judges to order the use of tracking bracelets on domestic violence offenders with restraining orders. "We think that's incredibly important to provide some peace of mind when it comes to restraining orders in really difficult cases."
Walker says increased use of tracking bracelets will allow counties to prevent shootings like the one carried out by an estranged husband at a mall in Brookfield last October.