Busier Crime Labs Continue to Struggle With DNA Backlogs


After 12 years and $785 million in federal funding to reduce a DNA testing backlog, a serious problem continues to exist, reports Stateline. Recent advances in science and technology have made DNA a more useful tool for convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent, but delays in processing DNA evidence are keeping criminals on the streets. Kermit Channel, director of the Arkansas state crime lab, says, “Because the technology offers so much more today than even five or six years ago, law enforcement is asking for more and more from us.”

Federal funding has helped labs keep current on analysis of evidence from violent felonies, but Channel says testing of property crime evidence lags. In addition to analyzing DNA evidence recovered from crime scenes, crime labs are tasked with maintaining databases that hold DNA profiles of certain convicted offenders. State and local DNA databases and the national DNA database, connected through the FBI-run system CODIS, have become important tools for solving crimes in cases for which there are no suspects. As of January 2012, CODIS had led to 171,800 “hits” or matches and assisted in more than 165,100 investigations, according to the FBI.

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