The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, (DAASNY), issued the following statement on the 2017-2018 State budget:

“DAASNY thanks the Governor and the Legislature for their work in the passage of a statute that allows police and prosecutors to use photo identifications at criminal trials. Science has shown that the first identification — usually done by showing victims or witnesses a group of six photos and asking them to identify the perpetrator — is usually the best identification. But, based upon a case from generations ago, New York has long remained the only state in the United States to bar this best evidence from being introduced at a criminal trial.

“DAASNY also is proud to have supported legislation that will allow people convicted of misdemeanors and many nonviolent felonies to have their records sealed from the public after a 10-year waiting period, while still allowing access to law enforcement.

“DAASNY… applauds the efforts to combat hate crimes in New York and the creation of a Hate Crimes Task Force. No person should be the target of criminal activity simply because of who they are or what they represent. Prosecutors statewide can be a part of the solution to hate crime activities through joint efforts to educate society about tolerance.

“Additionally, DAASNY respects the fact that the Governor, the Assembly and the Senate passed legislation to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility.”

Thomas P. Zugibe, DAASNY president, and Rockland County District Attorney added, “We had many concerns with the legislation as originally proposed. We raised those concerns with all of the parties to the negotiations. Some of these issues were heeded, while others were not. While we remain concerned with some aspects of the legislation, we, as District Attorneys are sworn to administer the law faithfully. I especially want to thank the New York State Senate Republican Conference for their tireless efforts to promote public safety and respect the needs of victims of crime in the State of New York. I am well aware of their efforts during the long negotiations.”

Zugibe further stated, “I want to thank our partners in law enforcement and the New York State Bar Association for the ongoing support of [allowing photo evidence at trial]. We all know that the best way to ensure meeting our sworn duty to fairly convict the guilty and none of the innocent is to utilize the best evidence available. Using the best evidence should be a priority, and these groups recognized that photo arrays are the best identification evidence. DAASNY also recognizes that recording interrogations is important to ensure that statements are properly obtained. DAASNY members have led the effort to record interrogations even absent legislation requiring such recordings. DAASNY issued protocols in December 2010 to best accomplish this important goal. DAASNY appreciates the efforts of the governor and Legislature to ensure that this bill was passed into law.”

Of the law sealing old criminal records, President Zugibe said, ‘This legislation is the result of bipartisan efforts that included Democrats and Republicans, prosecutors and defense advocates, and many others. I want to specifically thank the governor for his leadership on this important issue. For too long, those who have been convicted of relatively minor crimes many years ago have continued to live with the stigma of a criminal conviction long after they have returned to law abiding and productive lives. We should encourage those who do so to be relieved of the burden of constantly having to be reminded of indiscretions from long ago.”

DA Zugibe also said, ‘we look forward to working with anyone who shares our goals of convicting the guilty, exonerating the innocent, and protecting public safety in New York.'”

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