Ranzenhofer, law enforcement officials call on State Assembly to pass DNA database expansion bill
- Over half of all criminal convictions fail to require collection of DNA
- Expansion covers all convicted felonies and penal law misdemeanors
- Proposal expected to add 46,000 DNA samples a year to database
Batavia, NY – State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer joined local law enforcement officials Thursday morning to announce passage of legislation in the State Senate that would expand New York’s DNA database – to require people convicted of all felonies, as well as misdemeanors in the penal law – to submit DNA samples, and to call on the State Assembly to pass the legislation immediately.
Under existing law, people convicted of about half of the crimes that are committed are required to submit DNA samples, including every penal law felony, and just 36 misdemeanor crimes in the penal law. Senate Bill No. S5560A would expand that list to include all felonies in State law and every penal law misdemeanor. It is projected that the expansion would add about 46,000 individual DNA samples a year to the databank.
“Only a limited number of crimes require a DNA sample to be submitted to the State’s database. The law stops short of being completely effective. This legislative proposal is a crime solving mechanism for law enforcement to keep our residents safe and protect our community from people who continue to violate the law but remain undetected. More importantly, the law stands to protect innocent people who have been wrongly accused or convicted. I call on the State Assembly to pass this legislation immediately,” said Ranzenhofer.
New York’s DNA databank has transformed criminal investigations and prosecutions to make them more accurate and effective, as well as helped to exonerate the innocent. However, DNA is only collected in approximately 46 percent of crimes because current law does not include the collection of DNA from all those convicted of crimes, such as some misdemeanors. This has reduced law enforcement’s ability to resolve investigations as quickly and enabled some criminals to remain free to commit more crimes, sometimes with devastating consequences.
“According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, offenders connected to crimes through the DNA databank have, on average, three prior convictions for offenses that did not require them to submit a DNA sample,” said Sheriff Gary T. Maha. “Last week, the New York State Sheriffs' Association during their winter training conference in Albany, NY, unanimously voted to support the All-Crimes DNA bill. Collecting DNA from the broadest range of criminals will not only solve crimes, but will help prevent crimes and exonerate the innocent. DNA has also prevented countless innocent people from even being arrested for crimes they did not commit.”
“The DNA Data Bank is a cost-effective tool that has helped solve thousands of crimes over the past 15 years. However, the data bank still contains about 25,000 unidentified DNA samples from crime scenes across New York State. Every time the databank is expanded, more crimes are solved. I sincerely hope that the New York State Assembly will follow the Senate's lead and immediately pass this very important expansion of the DNA Data Bank in order to help us take more criminals off the streets and prevent these offenders from committing additional crimes,” said District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.
Since its inception, DNA stored in the databank has been used to identify perpetrators in about 10,000 crimes, including 900 murders and 3,500 sexual assaults. Since 2006, when the DNA databank was expanded to include 36 misdemeanors, law enforcement agencies have used the information to convict 1,460 criminals.
The DNA database expansion bill is supported by many law enforcement organizations, including the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and New York State Troopers PBA.
Senator Ranzenhofer is a co-sponsor of the bill. The legislation passed the State Senate on Tuesday by a 49-10 vote.