State Senate Passes DNA Databank Expansion Bill

200px dna orbit animated static thumb State Senate Passes DNA Databank Expansion Bill
(Photo: Wikipedia)

The State Senate passed the DNA Databank Expansion Bill yesterday, which would expand New York’s databank to include samples from anyone convicted of a felony or penal law misdemeanor.

Governor Cuomo promptly issued a statement calling the bill “an important step in protecting New Yorkers and modernizing the state’s criminal justice system.”

The bill follows a proposal put forth by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address earlier this month when he said expanding the databank would help decrease the number of wrongful convictions. In his statement following the bill’s passage in the Senate, Governor Cuomo echoed his belief the bill would help keep innocent people out of jail and urged the Assembly to pass its own version of the bill.

“This critical crime fighting resource embraces technology to help protect the innocent and convict the guilty,” Governor Cuomo said. “I call on the Assembly to do the same so I can sign this bill into law immediately.”

Governor Cuomo may be enthusiastic about the DNA Databank bill, but  it doesn’t go far enough for New York State Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III. Mr. Doyle issued a statement of his own after the bill’s passage was announced calling for more to be done to curb wrongful convictions in the State.

“We agree with the governor that expanding the DNA database would help exonerate the innocent and convict the guilty,” Mr. Doyle said. “However, a State Bar report found that wrongful convictions are caused by a number of other factors as well.”

Mr. Doyle asked the Legislature to consider taking several additional steps in addition to expanding the DNA Databank including; “requiring the videotape recording of police interrogations,” changing “how police lineups are conducted,” “strengthening a prosecutor’s obligation to turn over evidence favorable to the defense,” and allowing those who plead guilty to crimes to petition for DNA tests to establish their innocence after the fact.

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