Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue hopes to cut the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s persistent crime lab backlog – more than 32,000 tests were behind schedule as of last month – by providing $4.4 million for more scientists and outsourcing of some of the work, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The backlog has created problems for prosecutors, who have been forced to drop criminal cases because they didn’t get timely evidence analysis, and for relatives, who need autopsy results to claim death benefits.
The governor told groups of business leaders and police chiefs that he wanted to spend $1.4 million to hire 20 more scientists and lab technicians beginning July 1. He also wants to spend $3 million to pay private labs to conduct tests on evidence collected in death investigations and sexual assault and drug cases. This would be a stopgap solution to a problem the state’s premier forensic lab has suffered for years. The state crime lab is scrambling to fill 43 positions that already have been funded. Private and federal labs are able to offer scientists trained by the state jobs that have less stress, better hours, and more money. “We do not have difficulty recruiting scientists,” said GBI Director Vernon Keenan. “It’s after they get trained that they become a sought-after commodity. The future issue to be addressed has got to be pay.”