- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Gov. Pete Ricketts said Nebraska will take “swift action” to get prison inmates’ DNA samples after a report revealed that dozens of inmates have refused to comply with state law requiring felons to submit them.

More than 70 inmates in Nebraska have refused to give their DNA over the past 20 years by simply declining, the Omaha World-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/2p8qErH ). Law enforcement officials, such as Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, are calling on the Corrections Department to forcefully obtain a refusing prisoner’s DNA sample.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said Tuesday that he wants to give the department more time to retrieve samples voluntarily through a plan that involves misconduct reports, loss of privileges and the possible loss of good-behavior credit for prisoners who refuse to provide one.

Republican Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, said state officials have been trying to address “larger” issues of overcrowding and understaffing in state prisons.

“But just as we’re paying attention to the big things, it seems that Rome is burning right under our nose operationally,” Krist said.

Sen. Laura Ebke, who chairs the committee, said that while she’s concerned about the DNA samples, she’s inclined to believe that the Legislature can get answers without having to create a special investigative committee.

“I feel pretty strongly about this. I don’t want to overburden corrections staff or micromanage too much,” Ebke said. “I don’t want to go on a broad, sweeping investigation and take up more of their time at a time they’re trying to deal with multiple issues.”

Peterson said that the state eventually may need to go to the courts to get an order to allow use of force for obtaining a refusing prisoner’s DNA.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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