On March 19, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill expanding the ability of the police to collect DNA samples from citizens of the state. The state has been able to collect samples from those convicted of certain violent felonies since 1996. The new law, however, permits the the police to get genetic samples from almost anyone convicted of any crime in New York state. People convicted of possessing low quantities of marijuana for the first time are exempt, but otherwise even those convicted of non-violent misdemeanors are subject to the law. Like a lot of “crime control” legislation, the bill passed without a great deal of opposition in the Assembly. But also like a lot of legislation purporting to combat crime, the benefits of the bill are more dubious than its supporters claim and the civil liberties problems posed by the bill were largely ignored.
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