If you’re a fortune teller, you cheat on your spouse, or are loud in church, we’ve got some bad news: starting today, the state has the right to your DNA — thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the DNA database expansion law he signed earlier this year.
As the gov’s office was certain to remind us, the law goes into effect today, meaning the DNA of anyone convicted of a misdemeanor will be collected and entered into a state-maintained database. Previously, the government could only take the DNA of felons.
As we pointed out earlier this year, there are some absolutely absurd “crimes” that would require offenders to turn their DNA over to Big Brother — for example, fortune telling, adultery, and disrupting a religious service are all crimes that fall under Cuomo’s new law.
“New York is the first state to expand its DNA Databank so dramatically, once again leading the way for the rest of the nation,” Cuomo says. “This new law will enhance the effectiveness and fairness of the state’s criminal justice system by using this powerful technology to its fullest potential. This expansion will help solve and prevent crimes, bring justice to victims and prove innocence for the wrongfully convicted – and above all make our neighborhoods safer for New Yorkers.”
Previously, DNA was only taken from people convicted of a violent felony. The database was then expanded to include anyone convicted of any felony and 36 (mostly violent) misdemeanors. Now all misdemeanors? What’s next, parking tickets?
There is one exception to the new law: weed — first-time offenders convicted of low-level marijuana possession will not be required to provide a DNA sample (a provision that’s likely intended to prevent pundits from claiming Cuomo’s a hypocrite — he recently expressed his plan to decriminalize “public view” marijuana, which currently is a misdemeanor, and would fall under the new law).
In any event, Big Brother just got a little bigger — but there’s an easy way to avoid having to cough up your DNA: don’t break the law.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 1, 2012