David Clarke: asleep at the DNA wheel

Remember when the state’s DNA backlog first came to light?

At the time, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said of the situation, “This isn’t a mistake, this is an abomination. Let’s go ask the victims of unsolved sexual assaults or other crimes if they feel anybody needs to be held accountable.” Sheriff Clarke’s outrage was focused mainly on the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, so I find it highly ironic that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting the number of DNA samples the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office failed to collect is higher than originally thought. The Milwaukee Sheriff’s Office failed to collect DNA samples from 561 inmates, and 180 of those people are still being sought to provide samples. The new number of DNA samples the Sheriff’s Office failed to collect from inmates in its custody is more than 200 higher than the number of missing DNA samples Sheriff Clarke disclosed to a Journal Sentinel reporter in October, and it’s worth noting that at that time, Sheriff Clarke also said all of the inmates whose DNA was not taken remained in the sheriff’s custody, a statement that clearly wasn’t factual.

Not surprisingly, as the latest news of his Office’s DNA collection shortcomings came to light, Sheriff Clarke announced he has taken disciplinary action against a captain and two sergeants who were responsible for DNA collection and worked in the Detention Services Bureau while avoiding taking any share of the blame for his ineffective oversight of the Sheriff’s Office.


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6 thoughts on “David Clarke: asleep at the DNA wheel

      1. Zach, in your opinion, do you think DNA will be the central issue of the AG race this year? Also, is anyone running against JB? I know you mention Westlake and Wall a lot as Reps for Senate, but is there a Dem for AG?

        1. Former DNA Secretary Scott Hassett has declared his candidacy against Van Hollen, but I haven’t heard of any other Democrats who might be considering a run. As to whether or not DNA will be the central issue of the AG race, I can’t say for certain, but I’d have to think it’s going to come up as an issue, even if it’s not the central issue.

          After all, when he ran for AG in 2006, Van Hollen promised get the crime lab’s house in order, and the fact that this DNA problem didn’t come to light until three years into his term should be a red flag for anyone taking a look at his record. I’ll also note there’s plenty of blame to go around, from the DOJ and DOC to local sheriffs (David Clarke comes to mind), all of whom were supposed to be keeping track of DNA collections.

  1. I assume you meant former DNR Secretary, but maybe in light of things we should have a DNA Secretary!

    Thanks for the info and your thoughts.

    1. Yeah, DNR secretary. To be honest, I don’t know if he’s a serious challenger to Van Hollen, but he’s all the Democrats have, so we’ll see what kind of campaign he runs.

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