NYCLU Joins State Senator Tom Duane in Challenging Expansion of State's DNA Database

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
May 15, 2006 12:00 am

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Proposed Law Could Undermine Public Safety and Liberties

ALBANY, NY – At a news conference in Albany today, the New York Civil Liberties Union stood with State Senator Tom Duane as he called for answers to questions about legislation that would expand the state’s DNA database to include DNA from all persons convicted of any crime, including non-violent felonies and misdemeanors.

“Before rushing to legislate a massive expansion of the state’s databank, we need to address a number of questions about resources, efficiency — about the regulatory safeguards that ensure the integrity of the process and protect individual rights and liberties,” said Senator Duane. “As of today, these questions haven’t even been asked, never mind answered.”

Citing documented incidents from jurisdictions throughout the country, the NYCLU warned that inefficiency and negligence have led to critical flaws in DNA analysis.

“Adding many thousands of DNA samples to state databanks can and has compromised the integrity, efficiency and accuracy of DNA labs,” said Robert A. Perry, the NYCLU’s Legislative Director. “The legislature needs to understand the susceptibility of DNA science to human error and abuse before it contemplates the databanking of persons convicted of shoplifting, vandalism or trespassing.”

The NYCLU cited the problem in New York State of local medical examiners who have been collecting DNA samples from persons who are not even crime suspects. “These ‘rogue’ databases operate outside the law, and yet the state has yet to rein them in,” said Arthur Eisenberg, NYCLU Legal Director. “The state must correct the problem before it considers expanding its collection of DNA data.”

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