National DNA Testing Backlog Can Delay Cases For Years


DNA tests that could pave the way to jailing violent predators are routinely delayed around the U.S., sometimes for years, because of staffing and funding constraints at crime labs and increasing numbers of convicts being tested, reports the Denver Post. Last week, Boulder police arrested a suspect in a 10-year-old slaying. thanks to a DNA match from Wyoming. The DNA sample had waited – untested – for more than three years. Even the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, faces a massive backlog of 180,000 federal convicted offender samples that are waiting for DNA processing. Another 50,000 samples have been processed and are waiting to be entered into the national DNA database.

In 2003, the National Institute of Justice found 542,700 cases with possible biological evidence either still in possession of local law enforcement or backlogged at local or state forensic labs. “You need more labs, more personnel, more equipment and more training. It is a chain, and any weak link in the chain can just break it,” said Lawrence Kobilinsky, chairman of the forensic sciences department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “There are many cases out there where a rape kit was sitting around and wasn’t analyzed for a lengthy period. That delay causes other people to be raped, murdered and brutalized.” Colorado, Wyoming and other states have passed laws requiring convicted felons to have a sample of their DNA taken and entered into the FBI’s database.


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