J.D. Heyes | Natural News
It’s no joke – beginning April Fool’s Day in Wisconsin, even citizens convicted of misdemeanor crimes will have a DNA sample forcibly taken from them as the state dramatically expands its collection database.
As reported by The Free Thought Project, the new law will dramatically expand the number of samples being analyzed by state criminal labs in the capital of Madison. Prior to the change in law, the number of DNA profiles created came only from about 10,000-12,000 felony convictions each year. According to local news affiliate Fox 6, of that figure, some 550 positive hits were made on cases previously unsolved.
Profiles are now expected to jump six-fold, to an estimated 60,000 each year. Justice officials and police in the state say they expect the additional samples to lead to more crimes being solved.
“When you think of the scope of science, it’s been pretty recent that we’ve been analyzing DNA the way we have,” Jennifer Naugle, supervisor of the state DNA data bank, told the local Fox affiliate.
In the past, anyone convicted of a felony had a swab taken from inside their cheek, the sample then sent to the State Crime Lab for analysts to create a DNA profile. Using that database, scientists then compared it with DNA taken from the scene of an unsolved crime.
“We talk to our scientists about it all the time,” said Brian O’Keefe, with the state Department of Justice. “When the young lady is walking through the mall, texting with her head down, she doesn’t realize the night before she was never sexually assaulted because of the great work the scientists did the week before identifying the guy who is now off the street.”
‘We will save lives’
He went onto site recent cases where DNA profiles led to the arrest of suspects in crimes dating back to 2013 and 2007.
“We will save lives. We will save people from becoming sexual assault victims, shooting victims because of the evidence that is collected and out there,” O’Keefe told Fox 6.
But samples for misdemeanor crimes?
“Gary Ridgeway was the Green River killer. One of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history. If the rules in place now were in place in the early 80s, literally 60 to 70 women would be alive. Because the only thing he had was a misdemeanor conviction for prostitution,” said O’Keefe.
As for the explosion expected in new DNA profiles, “That kind of power, to save that many lives, that many sexual assaults, is incredible,” O’Keefe said.
Not everyone is convinced all of the rule changes are a good idea.
For instance, says state Rep. Dave Craig, a Republican from Big Bend, included in the new law is a provision that, for the first time, anyone arrested – but not yet convicted – of for a violent crime will also be forced to give a DNA sample.
“I think there is a strong contingent of us that say before they have their due process exhausted in the court system, they should maintain something as personal as DNA. We have a job to balance security, and safety versus individual liberty for those who have not had their day in court,” Craig told the local Fox channel.
‘We have a long list of concerns’
Craig went on to say that an even more expansive DNA collection regime was proposed by Gov. Scott Walker in 2013, but some conservatives in the Legislature were concerned it was too invasive.
So, to compromise, the list of accused offenses included in the new sample mandates was winnowed to only the most violent.
But for some, that compromise did not go far enough.
“One’s personal autonomy, one’s privacy can get eroded by a thousand cuts,” of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty told Fox 6.
The organization has a long list of issues with the new law, but first among them is privacy, especially for anyone whose DNA is collected but they are never convicted of a crime.
O’Keefe said the samples collected upon arrest will only be tested if probable cause is established. He added that if someone is not convicted of a crime, their profile will be removed after one year.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that it is constitutional for states to take DNA samples from those only suspected of a crime.