New York To Collect More DNA for State Database

New York To Collect More DNA for State Database

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted May 14, 2007 in DNA and the Law

nypdNew York State is set to start collecting more DNA for its state database . As of May 9, 2007, almost 250,000 offender samples have been collected and approved for analysis. Under Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal, DNA will be collected from:

  • People found guilty of crimes at the misdemeanor level or higher, including those who were convicted of minor drug offenses, harassment, or credit card theft.
  • All prisoners in the state
  • All parolees
  • Everyone on probation
  • Registered sex offenders

Not only is the DNA database expected to make it easier to nail the guilty, it’s also to serve the innocent who were wrongly accused. Prisoners and defendents who were previously not given court orders to have DNA evidence tested against their own, can now request one as well as ask that it be compared against the DNA database.

The UK has the largest national DNA database in the world. According to the Home Office, only 0.5% of people in the US have their DNA entered in a database compared to 5.2% of the UK population. Here’s one case study they cite to prove that DNA databases help solve crimes:

In Canterbury in 1988, an 11 year old and a nine year old girl were raped and indecently assaulted. In Derby in 2001, a shoplifter was arrested and a DNA sample taken. His DNA matched the 1998 crime scene samples. The offender pleaded guilty to the 1988 offences and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

The question is – Does fear of a DNA database help deter crime as well?

The New York Times, May 14, 2007

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Comment by alicia Subscribed to comments via email

I know I’m probably going to be horribly persecuted for saying this, but, I don’t really know how I feel about having DNA on record.

On one hand, the benefits are obvious. Help catch the guilty and keep the innocent free.

On the other hand, I can’t ignore the weighty feeling it gives me of being controlled.

I know the positives far outweigh the negatives right now, though.

Alicia, You’re not going to be persecuted! And if anyone tries, they’ll have me to answer to. ;)

I think you’ve voiced the number one concern most people have about the increasing use of DNA technology – privacy. How do we know our DNA won’t be used in other ways that could affect our ability to get a job, health insurance, or other freedoms in our lives? This is why it’s important for everyone to understand the basics of DNA and to know how it can be used. Even CSI is useful in this respect. If criminals know that it’s easier to catch them, maybe they’ll think twice.

Comment by NO DNA

Still, two years later and no deterance to crime Dr. Hsien. Laws do not deter crime or criminals, punishment (death penelty) and long sentences deter crime by those put to death and those locked up. Even those locked up still commit crimes behind bars. Laws such as collecting DNA from Law abidding citizens or gun control only impose penelties on the law abidding and impose control over the people by the government. I know that this article does not deal with collection of DNA from anything less then the listed misdermeanors, and that is fine with me, because I never plan to be in one of those classes. But I understand they are now proposing to collect from any one arrested. And that is wrong. One can be arrested for swaring at the police, jay walking, speeding or falsely. Those who trade liberty for security deserve neither! BF

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Comment by Paul

I am not sure that collection of DNA will be a deterrent. Most criminals are not that smart (some are) to be thinking about the consequences or even be aware that they are leaving DNA at a crime scene. Secondly, in a “crime of passion” the actor(s) are usually irrational to begin with, and will not be thinking about possibly getting caught, going to jail, going to trail and being presented with evidence against them.

I do think it is a good idea to collect the DNA from criminals, especially sexual predators and the like. I am concerned about privacy as you stated above. In the wrong hands, DNA information could potentially ruin someone’s ability to earn a living, get insurance, buy a home, etc.


[...] make sure the candidate isn’t a crime suspect by comparing his/her DNA with DNA databases. According to another interview with Noel Perry, Assistant Commissioner of the Ethical Standards [...]


[...] crime scenes and suspects. There is no “convicted offender database” such as the ones in the US and UK that additionally hold DNA from people who’ve been charged with a crime, convicted criminals, [...]


[...] databases of DNA from criminals and assorted random people are the subject of contentious debate in New York State and Great Britain, a DNA database for tigers called the American Tiger Registry is also being [...]


[...] points of reference, Australia’s national DNA database has over 350,000 DNA samples while New York State has almost 250,000. You may also be interested in these previous posts about the UK national [...]


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