Tired of standing in line behind DNA labs waiting for federal aid, practitioners of other types of forensic science, including fingerprint specialists, firearms examiners, and chemists are pushing for more money for their specialties, USA Today reports. The battleground is the federal ‘s criminal justice budget for next year, Congress will assemble next month. Proponents of non-DNA technologies have persuaded Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Al.), chairman of a subcommittee handling crime lab funding, to snub the Bush administration’s request for about $177 million for DNA tests on evidence from rapes and other unsolved crimes for the year beginning Oct. 1. Under Shelby’s proposal, $89.5 million would be available, and it would have to be shared by “all disciplines” of forensic work, including but not limited to DNA.
“DNA is wonderful, but it’s only a small part of what goes on in a crime laboratory,” said Joe Polski of the International Association of Identification. Scott Berkowitz of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network said eliminating preferences for DNA would lead to “thousands of rapists staying on the street.” He said the Shelby plan would undermine a law President Bush signed in October that authorized about $1 billion in DNA-related spending over five years.