New law collects DNA for convictions from turnstile jumping to violent assaults
Think twice before you jump that turnstile to make a subway train: According to a brand-new law, fare beating could not only mean a misdemeanor on your record, but also a swab of your DNA in New York’s state database.
With Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signing of the controversial bill into law today, New York became the first state in the nation to require DNA samples from every person convicted of a crime.
The law, which goes into effect Oct. 1, requires law enforcement officials to take DNA from every person after a conviction. Previously, the database included DNA from people convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors, but the new law includes every misdemeanor, even minor ones such as fare evasion or resisting arrest.
After convictions, DNA will be swabbed from a person’s cheek in a $30 test.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who pushed the legislation, told Metro the law will nab more criminals, new and old.
“This change in law is going to have a big impact on our ability to go back and solve cold cases and bring closure for victims and families,” Vance said.
Vance said the law will lock up criminals such as Curtis Tucker, who Vance said attempted to rape 15-year-old Jessica Reyes, present at today’s bill signing. After the 2004 attack, he said, Tucker went on to commit several misdemeanors, but evaded being linked to the assault on Reyes.
Curtis was only matched to Reyes after he submitted DNA following conviction for a violent robbery and assault in 2010.
Supporters like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York State Bar Association say the database could lead to exonerations.
But others questioned the law.
The New York Civil Liberties Union argued that the bill is more likely to create human errors, ending in wrongful convictions.
“Rather than improving crime fighting, this expansion simply creates a permanent class of usual suspects whose DNA will be tested by police for the rest of their lives,” NYCLU legislative director Robert Perry said.
Vance disputed critics, saying that the database nets criminals who commit misdemeanors on their way to more heinous crimes.
“People who commit violent crimes have been also proven to commit so-called ‘non-violent’ crimes,” he said.
Anyone convicted of a crime will have no choice in their DNA being entered, no matter how minor the crime might seem.
“If you are guilty of a crime or misdemeanor you will be in the databank,” NYCLU spokeswoman Jennifer Carnig said. “Period.”
The only people excluded from having their DNA taken are those convicted of having small amounts of marijuana, if they don’t have a criminal record.
“That exception just shows how ridiculous all of this is,” NYCLU spokeswoman Jennifer Carnig said. “If you think people that get caught smoking pot of holding pot should not be in the database, then you probably also think people who jump over the turnstile should not be in there too.”