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Governor signs bill to double the state's DNA database

By WKTV News

NEW YORK STATE (AP / WKTV) - New York's doubling of its DNA database will move the state toward the forefront of the 20-year-old police effort to solve crimes by keeping central computer records of criminals' genetic material and comparing it against crime scenes.

The bill Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to sign passed late Wednesday in the Legislature. It will require collecting a saliva swab from everyone convicted of any felony and all but one penal misdemeanor starting October 1. The law will also detail defense access to the databank in efforts to exonerate suspects.

"I think of Kimberly Simon, Joanne Pechone, two famous homicides we've had here of young girls throughout our history," Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said. "Both cases, we've run into situations where we've had an individual who has been investigated, who had a criminal record and we would have had their DNA, both cases. That person has since passed away."

In addition to exonerating suspects, District Attorney Scott McNamara says this is going to be a big help to local law enforcement investigating violent crimes.

"If someone has their DNA on file, maybe they wont be committing a crime, because they know we have their DNA and it would help us solve the crime," McNamara said. "I think they may also have some sort of effect on reducing the crime rate."

Fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana is the only exception to this new law. If you are convicted of this one time, DNA would not be collected.

The state police databank already has more than 416,000 offender DNA patterns on file from penal felonies and 36 misdemeanors.

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