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DNA samples urged in misdemeanor plea bargains

ALBANY — New York’s criminal justice commissioner is urging prosecutors statewide to make DNA samples part of all misdemeanor plea bargains after lawmakers were unable this year to pass a proposal to expand the testing to everyone convicted of the non-felony crimes.

New York has a data bank listing genetic material from more than 356,000 criminals convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors, as required by law, plus more than 32,000 samples taken from crime scenes.

Authorities say it has helped more than 10,000 investigations, including charging a limousine driver Tuesday with a decade-old rape.

Acting Commissioner Sean Byrne this week has written to all 62 county district attorneys to “strongly encourage” adding DNA samples in misdemeanor plea bargains. Some had already started.