About once a week, Utah’s DNA database gets a hit linking biological evidence to a possible suspect, sometimes cracking a cold case. Uploading convicts’ genetic blueprints could slow to a creep if federal money funneled to Utah to process DNA samples dries up by the end of the year, as state officials fear. Since early 2003, the state has received about $750,000 from the National Institute of Justice as part of President Bush’s DNA initiative, said Jay Henry, deputy director of the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services. Now that money is in danger of disappearing and the state may not immediately have the funds to pick up the slack.
Convicted criminals in Utah pay a $75 fee to pay for having their DNA samples entered into the state’s system and the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System [CODIS.] Only half of those offenders whose DNA is collected actually pay the fee. Of the fees that are paid, about $15 is lopped off and paid to sheriff’s offices, which collect a majority of the samples sent to the state’s crime lab. An estimated 28,000 DNA samples have been collected from criminals in Utah. About 11,000 of those samples are logged into the state and FBI’s databases, while another 12,000 have been outsourced to private labs, where work on them is under way. There are still 5,000 samples boxed up and collecting dust in state crime labs.