Wisconsin’s outgoing attorney general says state crime labs are ready for a new law that requires police to collect DNA from many criminal suspects.
Starting next April, police will be required to submit a DNA sample from anyone arrested for a violent felony, while the state will also begin collecting DNA from anyone convicted of a misdemeanor. The change will mean a huge influx of work at state crime labs, although Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says they’ve been preparing. He says lawmakers enabled them to roll out the law in such a way that “we could ask for the resources that we thought we needed, with adequate time to implement the law, to train these people and get them in place…I’m confident that we can move forward with all of the expansion and be able to stay on top of things and not fall behind.”
Under the new law, the state Department of Justice estimates DNA samples submitted to state labs could jump by almost 65,000 cases a year. To help deal with the new load of samples, DOJ has hired nearly 20 new staff members to help process those samples and has started upgrades at its Madison crime lab.
Van Hollen says it’s quite a change from the massive backlog of DNA cases that were waiting to be tested when he first took office in 2008, and he’s confident the influx of new submissions will not create new problems for state crime labs.