Attorney General Josh Kaul says he doesn’t want to ever see more DNA kits languish in police departments across the state.
Kaul is asking lawmakers in Madison to pass a law that requires police departments to test kits within two weeks of collection.
“This legislation will help prevent another backlog of untested sexual assault kits," Kaul said. "I haven't heard from a single member of the Legislature who opposes this legislation. There is no reason we shouldn't move forward with this."
The law would have healthcare providers collect a DNA sample from the victim of a sexual assault. It would then allow the victim to decide if they want to send the sample to authorities. If the victim chooses to move forward, local police departments or sheriff's offices would have 14 days to test the kit.
Wisconsin's Attorney General's office just finished testing thousands of old DNA kits that were ignored for years. In all, 4,471 DNA kits were tested between 2015 and earlier this year. A dozen cases have been sent to local prosecutors based on those tests. Two of them have resulted in prison time. One of the suspects identified by the DNA was acquitted, prosecutors dismissed two other charges, and the remaining cases are all pending.
Kaul says there is plenty of support for the testing law.
"It has the support of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Wisconsin Nurses Association, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, and YWCA Madison. It was approved by the State Senate on a voice vote and is supported by a majority of the members of the State Assembly,” Kaul said.
The legislation has not yet come up in the State Assembly.
Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, controls the committee where the testing plan must go. He says consideration of the bill will happen soon.
“I can’t see why anybody would vote against it,” Sanfelippo said.
Sanfelippo did say there's a bit more than just good government coming from the Attorney General. He said Kaul held a statehouse press conference Tuesday and demanded immediate action “because it looks good from a political standpoint.”
Lawmakers are not due back to the Capitol in Madison until the second week of January.