Paterson Urges Doubling DNA Database With Low-Level Offenders


New York Gov. David Paterson has proposed roughly doubling New York’s DNA database to include samples from even low-level offenders, making it the first in the nation to so broadly collect and use that evidence to solve crimes and exonerate people wrongly convicted, the Associated Press reports.

New York’s law would require adding about 48,000 samples a year to a laboratory system that state officials say is capable of handling the extra work, with no current backlogs. “You think it’d be a huge explosion, but we have samples on so many people that recommit crimes already – it’s the old rule of criminals don’t specialize,” said Sean Byrne, acting commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services. State police now have DNA samples from 356,000 people convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors, including petty larceny and endangering the welfare of a child. The database began in 1996 with the genetic material from killers and sex predators, and has been expanded three times. The New York Civil Liberties Union said the proposed expansion raises many questions, including about protection of privacy rights, and should be given further study. Paterson said it would cost about $1.6 million more annually for state police to increase data collection to get a complete list of New York criminals’ DNA, adding many other misdemeanors.

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