Joyful Heart in the News

WATCH: Mariska Hargitay Wants U.S. to Expand DNA Registry

January 25th, 2012
Ali Berman

Law and Order SVU actress Mariska Hargitay is asking politicians to support an expansion of the current DNA registry so that real life crime fighters can have a better shot at catching wrong doers.

For thirteen years the actress has caught criminals on SVU, but her involvement in supporting victims of violent crime runs much deeper than than just scripts. In 2004 she started her own organization, the Joyful Heart Foundation, to support survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.

Hargitay said on her website about expanding the DNA registry, “When I started playing detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Svu my eyes were opened to the prevalence and the devastation of sexual assault. It wasn’t just the scripts for the show but in the thousands of letters and emails that I received from viewers telling me their own stories of sexual violence… Those stories inspired me to start the Joyful Heart Foundation. Our mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors…

“Through our work we’ve seen the healing power that justice brings to rape victims and that’s why I’m excited to talk to you today about expanding the New York data bank to include samples from offenders convicted of all felony crimes and every penal law misdemeanour.

“This reform will bring healing and justice to survivors, hold violent offenders accountable, solve and prevent crimes and avoid wrongful convictions.”

The actress isn’t alone in her desire to expand the DNA registry. NY governor Andrew Cuomo also believes the expansion would help catch criminals faster.

Hartigay said, “We know that individuals who commit serious crimes, like rape, have broken the law before. A single Dna sample often matches to multiple cold cases when entered in the data bank. We also know that many rapists have previous convictions for lower level crimes. In fact since New York began collecting Dna samples for some misdemeanour convictions in 2006 offender profiles from shoplifting and criminal trespass convictions alone have matched to 332 sexual assaults.”

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