Governor proposes changes to DNA sampling during arrests, convictions

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It is a change that could affect all of us literally down to the core. This week the legislature will take up a plan by the governor that would require anyone arrested for a felony or convicted of a misdemeanor to give a DNA sample.

"Present time anyone who is convicted of a felony is required to provide a DNA sample," said Harry Hertel.

Hertel, an attorney with Hertel Law SC, sees a problem with the proposal. Mainly he says it requires good people who may have made a mistake to give up something very personal.

"The difficulty is that a misdemeanor could include disorderly conduct which could include saying a swear word in public," he said.

The governor has laid out $6 million dollars for it in the budget. Much of it he says would be paid for by the $250 surcharge on felony offenders and a new $200 surcharge on misdemeanor offenders. Ultimately, Hertel says if that person cannot pay, it would go to taxpayers.

"Again if someone is arrested for a felony and not convicted, who's gonna pay for the sample?" Hertel said.

In an e-mail, Governor Walker's office told us today: "DNA is the modern-day fingerprint, and Governor Walker made this proposal to give law enforcement the ability to cross check information, identify suspects, and get offenders off the streets."

And so that brings us to the question that ultimately will be weighed, whether this serves a greater good or steps on a person's privacy.

"Sometimes these are the things that have to be done to keep our society safe," said Cassie Underwood.

"If it's a non-violent thing I don't think that's necessary but if it's a violent thing I think it would be necessary," said Shane Coffield.

"I worry about too much government intervention and that's the ultimate you know," said Fred Stephens.

A big question to tackle at the center of all of us.

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