Governor Walker recently announced that he is going to propose a new bill for the next state budget. This bill will allow and require DNA testing upon arrest for some felonies and some sex crimes. Walker has based his bill on the legislation of 22 other states that have passed into law similar bills. These states only allow DNA testing on arrest for felonies, sex crimes, and burglary crimes. A criticism that many people have and I do as well is, if he is basing his bill on other states' legislation then why is he so hesitant to be more specific about the crimes he intends to cover in the bill. Without listing the specific crimes it is questionable whether or not Walker is trying to pull another fast one over the blind public's eyes.
Though both sides of this political issue can agree that taking dangerous criminals off the streets is very important but at what cost? Under this law suspects could be arrested under suspicion and have their charges dropped there after on technicalities. Suspects then would have to file to expunge the gathering of their DNA from the database. However, the DNA would remain in the database for a minimum of 8 months after the expunge file is submitted. Many people find the implementation of this law would impede on citizens right to privacy. This is a valid point but people want to be safe from potentially violent criminals too. It seems a compromise must be made.
The costliness of this bill is also a topic being discussed. It will cost $4 million tax dollars to start and $2.6 million dollars a year to maintain the system. If you ask me the price of safety should be irrelevant.
It also stands to reason that the addition of DNA samples will allow for a multitude of Wisconsin cold cases to be solved. But if the cold cases are for crimes not covered by the crimes listed in the bill then can we prosecute? What if someone has legally won a trial and caught a break from a crime in the past? This person may have cleaned up their behavior in the years since. The DNA may prove guilt. In this case do we prosecute or do we let the citizen continue living a free life?
There is still the fear of a slippery slope effect. This is the big issue for many civil rights activists such as myself. Many of us are all for the removal of potentially dangerous criminals but this bill may also be a foot-in-the-door for future law makers. Maybe in five years, more legislation will be written to take DNA upon all arrests. Maybe even further and then what shall the people do? Will the people then become slaves of their government?
This bill should be highly criticized and publicized in the coming weeks and months to ensure that there is no slippery slope possibility. We have to demand the policy to be bulletproof and precise on the situations and crimes that would subject people to DNA collection.