By Assemblyman Will Barclay
New York may soon expand its DNA databank. This would help solve more crimes by linking criminals to the crime they commit. The State Senate recently passed legislation that would require anyone convicted of a felony or penal law misdemeanor to provide a DNA sample. Current law only requires those convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors to submit a DNA sample. I was pleased that this measure moved forward in the State Senate.
I am a big supporter of expanding the DNA databank and I sponsor legislation that would do just that in the State Assembly.
History has proven that violent criminals don’t specialize in one kind of crime and are often convicted of lesser crimes before committing other, more serious offenses. Had their DNA been in a databank from a lesser offense, then investigators have a better chance of matching up DNA collected at the scene of a murder, for example.
Legislation which I sponsor (A.4137) would require a DNA sample be collected from every person convicted of a penal crime, adjudicated as a youthful offender, or subject to registration as a sex offender in New York. Currently, if a known sex offender from another state moves into New York, they are not required to provide a DNA sample.
Additionally, current state law provides no penalty for the failure to provide a DNA sample. My legislation would change that as well.
Expanding the databank has already proven to increase the number of crimes solved and clear those wrongly charged. According to recent media reports, in 2007, the year after New York allowed DNA collection from all convicted felons, DNA “hits” increased by more than a third of the cumulative total 10 years prior to the expansion. In 2008 and 2009, the cumulative total of “hits” rose to 7,980 — a 300 percent increase in crime scene matches over the prior decade.
With further expansion, more crimes would be solved.
The bill that passed the Senate is currently in the Assembly Codes committee.
It is now time for the Assembly to pass this bill. Not only will this enable the guilty to be convicted, it helps prove the innocence of those who have been wrongly charged.
Some opponents have voiced concerns about this infringing on civil liberties, but this is a weak argument as law enforcement has been collecting fingerprints for years.
DNA databanks just expands the current law enforcement tradition of collecting fingerprints.
Petition to Ban Synthetic Marijuana launched
Last week my office launched an online petition to ban the sale and use of synthetic marijuana.
Public health officials, local law enforcement, and community members are concerned about the recent surge in the use of such substances.
On the first day after launching the petition, more than 130 people around the state signed on in support of banning these dangerous products. These drugs, with names like K2, Spice and Happy Shaman, can be obtained locally and on the internet.
They are sold as incense, but are often smoked to produce a high. Because there is no law against it, retailers are able to sell it legally.
The media, poison control, and the medical community report that users of these products can have strong psychotic episodes, including extreme paranoia, hallucinations, hypertension and suicidal thoughts. These drugs can have long-term damaging effects and some have died from using these products.
I hope you join me in the fight to make this illegal by signing your name to this online petition: http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=124&sh=story&story=46138
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.