The closure of the Detroit Police crime lab two years ago is adding to backlogs of forensic evidence at labs across the state, causing the justice system in Michigan to “grind to a halt,” reports the Detroit News. The Michigan State Police, which took over the dysfunctional crime lab in September 2008, is sending evidence in violent Detroit cases to other state, federal and private labs, putting local cases on hold, officials said. At the same time, there is a backlog of 12,000 rape kits dating to the mid-1990s and 2,700 other pieces of forensic evidence piled up in Wayne County alone.
One official called the situation a “crisis of epic proportions” in a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State Police and Military and Veterans Affairs. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has recommended $36.9 million for forensic science services in her budget for next year — about the same amount as this year — and also called for $2.5 million in supplemental funding this year to reduce the case backlogs that have grown because of the Detroit lab shutdown. The lab was closed after it was determined that it had mishandled firearms cases.