NEW YORK — New York's governor on Wednesday proposed making the state the first in the country to take mandatory DNA samples from anyone convicted of a crime, including relatively lesser offenses.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in an annual "State of the State" speech to the New York legislature, said currently DNA was collected in less than half of crimes on the books.
"I will propose a bill requiring the collection of a DNA sample from any person convicted of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor," said Cuomo, a former federal prosecutor and New York state attorney general.
Cuomo said that applying DNA collection to all criminals would both help law-enforcement bodies fight serious crime and protect against wrongful convictions.
Current exclusions include "numerous crimes that are often precursors to violent offenses," he said.
"As a result, we are missing an important opportunity to prevent needless suffering of crime victims. We are also failing to use the most powerful tool we have to exonerate the innocent," he said.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance welcomed the initiative.
"I am pleased Governor Cuomo has made post-conviction DNA collection for all crimes one of his legislative priorities," Vance said.
"Our current law only permits us to collect DNA from half of all convicted offenders. It?s as if doctors were only permitted to use a life-saving medicine in half of their cases. It would not make sense in medicine, and it does not make sense in law enforcement," he added.