New York to expand DNA testing of convicts
October 20, 1999
by CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman
NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York will take DNA samples from ten times as many convicted criminals as it currently does, under a new law which expands the number of offenses subject to compulsory testing.
Under the present law, only eight percent of convicted criminals in the state are obliged to give DNA samples.
The new law, which goes into effect on December 1, increases the number of offenses included in the DNA sample requirement from 21 to 107, with burglary, arson and drug dealing added to the existing list which already includes most violent crimes.
Gov. George Pataki says the new law will result in 30,000 convicts a year giving samples instead of the current 3,000.
New York is the latest state to look at increased collection of DNA as a law-enforcement tool. Several states have increased the numbers of testing-eligible crimes and Louisiana gives DNA tests to everyone arrested.
While civil libertarians are concerned about the privacy implications of these laws, proponents point out that DNA evidence can prove innocence as well as guilt.
New York Police Department Commissioner Howard Safir said, "I can prove somebody innocent through DNA evidence. I need a lot more than DNA evidence to prove somebody guilty."
A further concern is the nationwide backlog of testing of the limited amount of samples now taken.
According to defense attorney Barry Scheck, there are already millions of eligible convicts whose DNA has not been collected, let alone tested.
Parents hesitant toward DNA identity plan
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