Governor Cuomo Signs Historic DNA Databank Bill in New York

Joyful Heart was honored to join Governor Cuomo in Albany on Monday as he signed the bill expanding New York State’s DNA Databank into law. The bill makes New York the first state in the nation to require DNA samples from anyone convicted of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor.  The new law also expands defendants’ access to DNA testing both before trial and after a conviction based on a guilty plea when appropriate. In other limited circumstances, defendants will now be able to seek discovery of property and other materials to demonstrate their actual innocence after conviction.

At the bill signing ceremony, Governor Cuomo praised New York’s legislative leaders for reaching a compromise that would ensure that the State’s dual goals of safety and fairness are met. He said to the audience, which included members of law enforcement, district attorneys, survivors and advocates from across the state:

“I am proud to sign this bill today because this modern law enforcement tool will not only help us solve and prevent crimes but also exonerate the innocent. The bottom line is that this is a tool that works and will make the state safer for all New Yorkers.”

Ann M., the mother of a rape survivor and a courageous and passionate advocate for the families of survivors, thanked Governor Cuomo and the legislature for passing this historic legislation:

“By signing this bill today, the Governor and the Legislature are taking the necessary steps to not only solve and prevent violent crimes, but also help other families from the pain my family has suffered over the past decade—pain no parent should ever be forced to suffer.”

Other speakers at the ceremony included Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Elizabeth Glazer, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. They each applauded the efforts of Governor Cuomo and leaders in both houses of the legislature to pass this reform and make communities across New York safer.

Joyful Heart is part of a statewide coalition that has worked for the past two legislative sessions to advocate for the passage of this landmark DNA databank expansion.

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