Jan 25, 2012

Manhattan DA Advocates the Increased use of NYS' DNA Databank

On January 23, 2012, the NY Times published an  Op-ED piece written by Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, advocating the increased use of New York State’s DNA databank, which he believes can help solve more crime.

New legislation introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo looks to expand DNA collection to all crimes  under New York State’s Penal Law. This would change 2006 legislation that did not include all  misdemeanors.

Vance wrote:

DNA samples have been linked to more than 3,500 sexual assaults, 860 murders, 1,100 robberies and 3,400 burglaries. Thousands of criminal convictions have resulted. Today, however, we are hamstrung by a law that does not authorize the collection of DNA following convictions of certain misdemeanors.

The Manhattan DA wrote that collecting DNA samples in low level crimes can lead to convictions for other higher level offenses and also prevention of future crimes.

Vance also sees the DNA collection as a major tool in proving innocence:

Crucially, DNA evidence does more than put criminals away; it also exonerates the innocent. One of my top goals as district attorney has been to avoid wrongful convictions. Having a tool like an all-crimes DNA databank at our disposal would go a long way toward helping us achieve that all-important goal of avoiding wrongful convictions. 

Vance addressed skeptics of the accuracy DNA testing, "To date in New York, we have never had a 'false positive,' or the misidentification of DNA from one person as the DNA of another."

Finally the Manhattan DA argues that of the available tools for collecting evidence that DNA is the most reliable tool.

What do you think?