NY State Preparing Large Expansion of DNA For Convicted Criminals

A deal between Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers for the expansion of the DNA database in New York for convicted criminals has been reached, which will create a database among the nation’s largest, according to the New York Times. Under current law, DNA samples are only required for less than half of the potential crimes in New York, including all felonies. This proposal will require New Yorkers convicted of any crime to submit a DNA sample to the state for entry into the state’s existing DNA database.

While prominent critics of this proposal include the New York Civil Liberties Union, defense attorneys and judges will have broader access to DNA evidence in order possibly exonerate defendants. Jonathan Lippman, the Chief Justice of the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, told the New York Times, “This legislation is a major step forward in eliminating wrongful convictions in New York…. The legislation takes an even-handed, balanced approach to this problem, particularly by expanding the access of convicted offenders — not only those convicted after trial, but also those who pleaded guilty — to DNA testing.”

Prosecutors, including Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, are largely for this measure. Vance told the New York Times, “I think the passage of this legislation speaks to something that clearly is in our control and that clearly is going to have a real impact on solving old cases, preventing future cases and hopefully exonerating the innocent.”

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