News 02.01.12

New York’s DNA Database Bill Falls Short

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on a bill Tuesday to expand the state’s DNA databank to include criminals convicted of misdemeanors, upsetting Democrats in the State Assembly who think the bill falls short. Previous efforts to expand the database were tied to wrongful conviction reforms that would improve police identification procedures and reduce false confessions. 

Last year, similar legislation died after the Assembly and Senate couldn’t reach a compromise. Now, Democrats are willing to accept the proposal if it includes provisions that would make it easier for the wrongfully convicted to gain access to other evidence, including the DNA database.

Innocence Project Co-founder Barry Scheck told The New York Times that supporters of the expanded DNA database should promote additional reforms to improve New York’s criminal justice system.

“Less than 10 percent of serious felony cases have any biological evidence in them, which can identify the real perpetrator with a DNA test,” Mr. Scheck said. “And most of the serious offenders are already in the DNA database. This isn’t the No. 1 priority.”


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