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Governor Applauds Progress on Public Safety Initiative for DNA Funding

Sep 16, 2021

Governor Mike Dunleavy, today, thanked the Alaska Legislature for approving his $1.1 million in funding for DNA technicians Tuesday. Public Safety is Governor Dunleavy’s top priority, and the funding advances a top public safety initiative.

 “I’m really pleased the Legislature saw the urgency of funding these technicians to collect offender DNA,” said Governor Dunleavy. “It’ll give the tools that law enforcement needs to make Alaska safer by catching offenders through the best science.”

The scope of DNA collection is for anyone who has been convicted of or arrested for a felony and a crime against a person, including a misdemeanor. Over the last 25 years, although Alaska has collected 75 percent of the DNA samples that were authorized, there are still, thousands of lawfully owed DNA samples not collected in Alaska for various reasons.

In August, Governor Dunleavy unveiled his plan to help law enforcement investigate and keep violent offenders and sexual predators off the streets in Alaska. The Governor directed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Department of Corrections (DOC) to immediately collect 100 percent of the DNA in all authorized cases going forward and to collect DNA from another 20,022 offenders who owe the State a sample of their DNA under State law.

“We’re going to focus our efforts first on people convicted on violent crimes: homicides, sex offenses, robberies, and assaults,” said Deputy Attorney General John Skidmore. ”We will start with those in custody, those on probation, those on the sex offender registry, and then locate those violent offenders who did not fall into those previous categories. We’ll request help from all our various law enforcement partners around the state to assist in this public safety initiative,” Skidmore said.

The easiest time to collect DNA is at the time of booking, which going forward predominantly falls to the Department of Corrections, he said.

The new funding will pay for the hiring of 10 criminal justice technicians at DOC. The technicians will be based in state correctional facilities across Alaska. The technicians will ensure the delivery of the DNA samples to the State crime lab, the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory.

“With these new positions, the Department of Corrections will have the necessary staff to collect the required offender DNA statewide,” said DOC Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom. “The DOC team stands ready to meet the goals of the Governor’s public safety initiative.”

The funding is among the appropriations in House Bill 3003, which was signed by the Governor Wednesday afternoon.

The $1.1 million is from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA funds.