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COLUMN: DNA expansion passes; remember basics of road safety

— I was pleased to support expanding the DNA databank in the Assembly. This was signed by the Governor on March 19. I have advocated for expanding the DNA databank for a long time. I was happy to see this finally become law. We have the technology to use DNA to identify criminals. Law enforcement should be able to use this valuable tool to do their jobs. This will also enable those wrongly accused to be exonerated.

History has proven that violent criminals don't specialize in one kind of crime and are often convicted of lesser crimes before committing other, more serious offenses. Anyone convicted of a felony or penal law misdemeanor will need to provide a DNA sample. Current law only requires those convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors to submit a DNA sample. Some opponents have voiced concerns about this infringing on civil liberties, but law enforcement has been collecting fingerprints for years. DNA databanks just expands the current law enforcement tradition of collecting fingerprints. Since its launch in 1996, New York State's DNA Databank has been a powerful tool both for preventing and solving crimes including more than 2,900 convictions. DNA evidence has helped exonerate 27 New Yorkers who were wrongfully convicted and countless suspects cleared early-on in investigations. In addition, the new law also expands defendants' access to DNA testing and comparison—both before and after conviction in appropriate circumstances, as well as after conviction where innocence is claimed.

Road safety reminders

There have been a number of warm-weather days and record breaking temperatures this month. People are out enjoying the weather and for some that means getting out their motorcycle. Unfortunately, there have been a number of bad motorcycle accidents including two fatalities and at least one serious injury involving motorcycles. I wanted to remind you to drive safely and to share the road with motorcycles to best of your ability. Here are some basic road safety tips offered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

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