New York’s new DNA database law that requires anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor under the state’s Penal Law to submit samples to the DNA database has come into effect from this Wednesday. Previously, not all convicts of felonies and misdemeanors were required to submit DNA samples. The law would make New York’ DNA database law the most expansive in U.S.A.
In a statement, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “This expansion will help solve and prevent crimes, bring justice to victims and prove innocence for the wrongfully convicted – and above all make our neighborhoods safer for New Yorkers.”
Prosecutors, law enforcement, and legislators have already praised the law, because records show serious, violent crimes are often committed by people already convicted of lower-level offenses. Michael Green , the executive deputy commissioner of the State Division of Criminal Justice Services said, “we were missing opportunities to bring offenders to justice sooner, and prevent future victimization.”
An earlier draft of the law had been criticized because it did not allow defendants access to the database in order to prove their innocence or prevent wrongful convictions. The new law allows that defendants in some serious crimes, including murder and rape, can have access to the DNA database to prove their innocence.
The law does not apply to children in Family Court matters or juvenile delinquents. Also, first-time offenders convicted of low-level marijuana possession are exempt from the law.
According to reports released by Cuomo’s office, the state’s DNA database has, since 1996, helped to obtain close to 3,000 convictions and helped to exonerate 27 people.