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Make DNA the New Fingerprint
To date, all 50 states have passed DNA legislation authorizing the collection of DNA profiles from certain subjects for submission to the national system. These databanks hold DNA samples from selected offenders and samples collected at crime scenes. The DNA profiles can be searched on a local, state or national level to match crime scene samples to a known offender.
The premise for the collection of offender DNA is based on evidence that violent criminals commit both multiple crimes and nonviolent crimes. Richard Aborn, President of the Crime Commission, explained that "Expanding the taking of DNA from all convicted criminals, not just those convicted of a limited number of offenses...leads to new crimes being prevented because we know criminals commit multiple offenses before being caught. The use of DNA is crime fighting at its best."
By helping to solve crimes and determine the innocence of the accused forensic DNA profiles have increasingly become a major resource for law enforcement and criminal justice officials. In 2006, the Crime Commission successfully supported the expansion of New York's DNA databank to require anyone convicted of and sentenced for any penal law felony or an attempt to commit a penal law felony, where such attempt is itself a felony offense, as well as for 35 specified misdemeanor offenses (including reckless endangerment, petit larceny, stalking, unlawful imprisonment, criminal trespass, sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child), to provide a DNA sample for the State DNA Databank. But the 2006 expansion didn't go far enough, as New York still failed to collect DNA from more than half of all convicted criminals.
Building off the 2006 victory and lessons learned from each expansion, the Crime Commission has continued to work tirelessly to educate stakeholders and the public about this incredibly powerful tool. With each expansion to the databank we solve more cases, and help prevent future crimes. This success exhibits the need for DNA to be treated in the same way that fingerprints are treated—a sample should be taken for all offenses and kept in a database in cases once a person is convicted.
The Crime Commission achieved another victory in 2012. Garnering support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, among others, an historic agreement was made to make New York State the first in the nation to expand the DNA Databank to "all crimes" upon conviction. Effective August 1, 2012, anyone convicted of any felony defined in any chapter of NY laws or any misdemeanor defined in the penal law is required to submit a DNA sample to the databank. The legislation also includes an exception for DNA collection from first time offenders who are convicted of the class B misdemeanor of possessing marihuana or smoking marihuana in plain view. In addition, the legislation provides defendants' greater access to DNA testing and comparison both before and after conviction.
These reforms go to the core responsibilities of the criminal justice system; to move swiftly and fairly to convict the guilty, and to do all that it can to protect the innocent.
Media & Resources
NY DNA Databank Reform
NY DNA Databank Statistics