Tough-on-crime New York State legislators, seeking to expand the collection of DNA from convicts, point to cases like that of Raymon McGill, who was linked to a rape and two murders after being arrested in an attempted robbery, says the New York Times. Civil libertarians want to expand the use of DNA for the potential exoneration of people serving time. The Senate passed a bill yesterday that would require all convicted criminals to submit a DNA sample. Current law requires only those convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors to do so. Supporters of the measure said it could have prevented McGill from committing murder, because if he had been required to give his DNA after committing a petty crime years ago, he would have been identified in the rape inquiry, which preceded the murders.
Barry Scheck, a founder of the Innocence Project, said that if supporters of DNA expansion were serious about preventing wrongful convictions, they should promote measures like requiring videotaping of interrogations or changing the way lineups are done. “Less than 10 percent of serious felony cases have any biological evidence in them, which can identify the real perpetrator with a DNA test,” he said. “And most of the serious offenders are already in the DNA database. This isn't the No. 1 priority.”