Assemblymember Harvey Weisenberg announced that legislation he sponsored expands the DNA database to include most penal misdemeanor and felony crimes has been passed by the State Assembly (A.9555). This proposed law would expand the list of crimes were such DNA is routinely collected. It also would ensure fair access to DNA evidence by those accused or convicted of a crime.
“Collecting DNA samples from those convicted of crimes is a commonsense measure to protect the public safety,” Assemblymember Weisenberg said. “We already collect fingerprints of those convicted of crimes, and expanding such collections to DNA samples will help police officers solve more crimes, and put dangerous criminals behind bars.”
The DNA databank is used to match known suspects with unknown biological (DNA) profiles obtained from investigations and crime scene evidence. Currently the state only collects DNA upon conviction of the most serious crimes. This new law will expand it to most penal misdemeanors and felonies. Since the DNA databank was created in 1996, there have been more than 10,000 hits against the databank, aiding more than 2,900 convictions. The DNA databank is also used to exonerate individuals who have been wrongly convicted of a crime.
Assembly Weisenberg noted that according to New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, convicted offenders who are currently in the databank have, on average, been convicted of three previous crimes – for which no DNA was collected – before they committed a crime that required such a sample. The expanded New York DNA databank, if approved by the Governor, will include a DNA profile for every person convicted of such a crime after Oct. 1, 2012.