Georgia prosecutor Fred Bright has waited six months for test results to determine whether he can indict a murder suspect on rape charges, reports the Macon Telegraph. More than 30,000 cases are backlogged at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab. Now the bureau is adding technology and 20 new positions, in addition to hiring private companies to whittle down the caseload that ballooned as a result of a two-year hiring freeze caused by state budget cuts. Gov. Sonny Perdue has agreed to spend $3 million to pay for the private companies.
“Outsourcing is the way we can have an immediate impact on the backlog of cases,” says bureau director Vernon Keenan said. Some prosecutors are concerned about the availability of the private companies’ scientists and who will pay for them to travel to courts to testify. Even with the influx of state funding and added resources, Keenan said it will be between 18 months and two years before the backlog is at an acceptable level. The current average wait for a toxicology screen, needed in death investigations, is still three months. Some DNA tests can take an average of 11 months to complete, and drug identification can take eight months.