City officials across Arizona say they won’t pay the state for DNA testing and other crime-lab services because they are strapped for cash and believe the fee is unconstitutional, reports the Arizona Republic. The Arizona Department of Public Safety was counting on collecting $2.5 million during this fiscal year from cities, towns, and counties to provide them with forensic-evidence testing, which had been done for free.
Without that revenue stream, state officials say any vacated positions in the lab could go unfilled, increasing a case backlog and potentially delaying court cases. Until recently, the only other state charging for lab work had a backlog up to a year. Now, only 4 percent of cases submitted to the crime lab in Arizona are more than 30 days old. In an attempt to reduce the burden to city and county agencies, the state tapped into dollars from gang- and immigration-enforcement programs. The remaining $2.5 million has been split based on the cases agencies submitted to the lab in the budget year 2007-08.