An 11-month backlog of DNA cases awaiting study by Michigan’s state police is frustrating local police and let a suspect in a rape roam free while police waited eight months for the evidence to arrest him, the Detroit News reports. The man is charged, based on DNA evidence, with raping a woman twice while police waited for lab results.
The case was one of the 74,000 DNA samples awaiting processing by the state to solve crimes. That doesn’t count 5,000 new convicted felons and 1,000 DNA requests that pour in each month.
In the case of Jamey Rey Johnson, police say that delay resulted in two more assaults. “My rapes could have been prevented,” said a 46-year-old former emergency room nurse who was attacked twice while Johnson was free.
The News says that forensic DNA analysis has become the most important crime-fighting tool of the 21st century, but because of its success, more DNA requests are submitted constantly in a variety of crimes. The National Institute of Justice estimates that 350,000 genetic samples from rapes, murders, and other crimes nationwide have not been tested.
The federal government is funding the collection of a massive database of 50 million genetic profiles to load into the national Combined DNA Index System called CODIS. Michigan has received more than $3 million to help cut a 10-year backlog of uncompleted tests. It hopes to rocess samples from about 50,000 convicted felons annually; the backlog of more than 74,000 cases to be processed; 2,391 samples from current and old cases with no suspects identified; and about 1,000 cases – some old, some new – submitted each month by police agencies.