crime

SAVE OUR YOUTH FACEBOOK PAGE

Rochester New York's Northeast side has the image of being one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city, exacerbated by low incomes. It's also home to families, local businesses, and a rich history, and often the recipient of community outreach services and anti-violence initiatives.

Save Our Youth is one of the most recent initiatives. The idea is to employ individuals who have come out the other side of the criminal justice system with the motivation to positively impact the community. Their history enables them to help detect and interrupt acts of violence before they happen. The method is based on the Cure Violence Model out of Chicago, Illinois, which treats violence as a disease or public health issue. But it's one of a raft of programs and was only funded for one year.

(Video after the jump)

Marie Cusick / WMHT

In a flurry of late night (and early morning) activity, lawmakers in Albany passed a bill that will bring about a major expansion to New York's DNA databank.

The new legislation covers all state felonies, and penal law misdemeanors. It requires people convicted of everything from animal cruelty to felony D.W.I., to turn over a DNA saliva sample.

It's expected to add 46,000 people a year to the DNA databank, which is housed at the State Police Forensic Investigation Center in Albany.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the DNA bill one of his top priorities for the year, and he's had broad support from district attorneys, law enforcement, and victims' advocacy groups.

Supporters have argued that DNA not only helps solve crimes, but it can exonerate the innocent, and even prevent crime - since serious offenders often start out small.

A bill currently making its way through the legislature would require more people convicted of crimes to submit samples of their DNA to the state's DNA databank.

That means the cutting-edge forensic science could be used to solve more crimes.

The bill passed the State Senate in January, and Governor Cuomo has called on the Assembly to do the same. Even celebrities, like Law & Order SVU's Mariska Hargitay have voiced support for the legislation.

But people who work in the criminal justice system say TV crime dramas are increasingly influencing juries, and giving people the wrong ideas about how forensic science actually works.

Marie Cusick / WMHT

Three men who were wrongfully convicted of murder were in Albany Monday, pushing for changes to a bill that would expand New York's DNA databank.

Steven Barnes, Fernando Burmudez and Frank Sterling each spent close to 20 years in prison for murders they did not commit.

The men were joined by representatives from the Innocence Project and the New York State Bar Association. The group wants measures added to the bill that would protect the wrongfully accused.

Photo: Mike Melita / WMHT

There's a new effort in Albany to pass a bill that would bring about a major expansion to New York's DNA databank — the place where the state stores genetic material from convicted offenders.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agree that having more DNA can help solve more crimes.

But not everyone agrees the bill does enough to ensure justice.

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