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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
January 6, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 
 

Statement of New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey Regarding Validity of DNA Collection and Use as State-of-the-Art Law Enforcement Science

Recent Superior Court Ruling Challenging DNA Collection to be Appealed

 

The use of New Jersey’s DNA database to confirm the identity of a Camden City rapist demonstrates the absolute importance, effectiveness and legality of utilizing DNA to identify dangerous career criminals. I credit Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi and Camden City Police Chief Edwin J. Figueroa for their immediate determination to employ the State Police DNA lab to obtain a proof-positive match linking the suspect to a series of brazen, daylight rapes which occurred in Camden’s central business district.

I have every confidence that New Jersey’s DNA statute will withstand legal scrutiny notwithstanding a recent Superior Court ruling which held that individuals convicted of criminal offenses would be entitled to have their DNA samples removed from the state DNA database and destroyed upon completion of a prison sentence, parole or probation. In light of this ruling, I have instructed the Division of Criminal Justice to seek a Stay of the Court’s Order and to appeal the ruling to the Appellate Division. It is law enforcement’s opinion that the destruction of DNA samples that have been legally obtained is tantamount to destroying fingerprint cards which remain in law enforcement files long after the criminal is released from prison. Simply put, the Court’s ruling is wrong and jeopardizes the ability of law enforcement to effectively do its job and imperils the welfare and safety of each and every New Jersey citizen.

In the past year, New Jersey’s DNA program has obtained more than 70,000 samples from convicted criminals, thus expanding the ability of law enforcement to better investigate, arrest and prosecute career criminals. Similarly, the DNA program allows prosecutors to solve previously unsolved or “cold” cases, eliminate the innocent from suspicion, and to identify those who have committed no crime.

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