Collecting DNA From All Convicted of Crimes In New York

The time to pass critical legislation expanding the use of the New York State forensic DNA database is rapidly vanishing. This expansion has great potential to help the State achieve significant advances in the fight against crime. I urge you to support the bill that was passed by the state Senate {S 5342} by an overwhelming vote of 60 to 1. It would be wrong to allow the lack of time left in the session prevent this bill from being passed.

Collecting DNA samples from all convicted offenders will provide our stateís law enforcement community with an invaluable resource in their efforts to keep New Yorkers safe. The logic behind this is clear: DNA evidence, the fingerprints of the 21st century, helps police solve crimes, helps prevent crimes, brings justice to victims and helps to determine the innocence of the wrongly accused. The more DNA samples the state has in its database, the more useful a resource it can be.

Past experience has shown this to be the case. Every time the database has been expanded, it has led to more positive matches with other crimes, enabling police to rapidly and accurately identify perpetrators before they can commit more crimes. So far, DNA evidence has connected 2,455 offenders to 3,864 crimes in the state, and 1,600 of those offenders were identified because of recent expansions in the database. Just since the 2004 expansion, in fact, police were able to solve 77 rapes and 14 homicides, as well as many other crimes.

Expanding the DNA database also makes sense because violent criminals often also commit non-violent crimes. Over 850 offenders tied to sexual assaults by DNA evidence in New York were found to have prior convictions for non-violent offenses like larceny, burglary or drug violations. Also, criminals added so far to New Yorkís DNA database have on average committed 11 prior offenses, according to studies. Therefore having criminalsí DNA on file for all crimes greatly reduces the chance that lawbreakers will evade justice repeatedly, while improving the odds that police can prevent future crimes from occurring.

With the end of this yearís legislative term drawing near, it is all the more urgent that this potentially life-saving public safety legislation be enacted. I hope you will use your leadership role in the Assembly to help ensure passage of this measure.

Pass this letter onto all of your friends and colleagues. We need to pass this law in New York this legislative session.

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The Hon. Sheldon SilverSpeaker
New York State Assembly
LOB 932
Albany, NY 12248
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