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Legislation signed on Sept. 22 will require every person convicted of a crime in New Jersey, as well as convicts presently serving sentences, to submit blood or biological samples for DNA testing. The law went into effect immediately. The samples will be included in the statewide database established by the DNA Database and Databank Act of 1994 and compared with samples taken from unsolved crimes. Conversely, the test results also might serve to exonerate those now serving prison sentences if their DNA is found not to match samples from crime scenes. Those subject to testing include juveniles and defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity. Anyone presently serving a prison sentence or on probation or parole must submit a sample before release from custody or termination of probation or parole. The new law further expands the scope of the DNA database law, which initially required only those convicted of sex-related crimes to submit samples. The act was amended in 2000 to include those convicted of murder, manslaughter, second-degree aggravated assault, kidnapping, and luring or enticing a child. The state’s DNA data bank is expected to expand from the current 10,000 samples to more than 140,000 samples within the next 18 months to two years, Gov. James McGreevey said in a statement announcing the bill signing. New Jersey’s data bank will connect to the FBI’s nationwide data bank for comparisons to other unsolved crimes. Twenty-three other states have similar laws. The program is expected to cost the state $8.086 million the first year, with the costs gradually dropping to about $7.66 million a year, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services. The program will be funded by a $2 surcharge on every traffic ticket, which is expected to raise $8.2 million a year. Some of that money will be used to hire an additional 40 DNA analysts, which will eventually reduce the time needed to analyze samples from 210 days at present to 30 days. The legislation, A-2617, was sponsored by Assemblymen Gordon Johnson, D-Bergen, and Herbert Conaway Jr., D-Burlington, and Sens. Nicholas Sacco, D-Hudson, and Joseph Coniglio, D-Bergen. It easily passed both houses earlier this summer.

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