The Wisconsin state crime laboratory has eliminated a backlog of DNA cases that slowed the pace of justice in criminal cases around the state, says an announcement by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The backlog was a key issue in the Republican attorney general’s 2006 campaign, and his announcement sets the table for a re-election campaign this year.
The backlog was eliminated by hiring 31 new DNA analysts in 2007 – double the previous number – as well as using new technology and overhauling the way the lab does business, said Van Hollen. The increase in funding for the lab was a bipartisan decision by lawmakers and Gov. Jim Doyle as part of the state budget process. The crime lab has usually quickly analyzed DNA evidence from high-profile crimes such as homicides and sexual assaults, but the lab is now improving the turnaround time on other crimes, such as burglaries and prosecutions of felons accused of possessing guns, said Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. “By pushing down those backlogs, they have been much more responsive, and we’ve been able to get different degrees of cases handled more expeditiously,” Chisholm said.