Historic Expansion of DNA Databank Approved by Senate
ALBANY, 01/31/12 – The New York State Senate today passed legislation, co-sponsored by Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta), for the largest expansion of the state’s DNA databank since it was created in 1994. The legislation (S.5560A) mirrors the databank expansion plan proposed by Governor Cuomo in his executive budget to require people convicted of all felonies, as well as misdemeanors in the penal law, to submit DNA samples.
“DNA is a proven crime-fighting tool and expanding its use will put more lawbreakers behind bars and offer another layer of protection for the public,” said Senator Seward. “More crimes will be solved, more criminals will be brought to justice and more innocent individuals will be exonerated through this legislation.”
Under the existing law, people convicted of about half 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. The legislation 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.
“Studies show, criminals that commit serious crimes, like rape and murder, have often committed lower level offenses previously. By collecting DNA, repeat offenders can be caught sooner and taken off the street, avoiding further tragedy and saving innocent lives,” Seward added.
The DNA databank expansion bill is supported by law enforcement organizations across the state, including the New York State Sheriffs Association, District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Troopers PBA, Downstate Coalition for Crime Victims, Joyful Heart Foundation, the Safe Horizon victim assistance organization and many other law enforcement groups throughout the state.
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 bill was sent to the assembly.