Crime Lab Backlog Was 1.2 Million Cases at Last Count in 2009


At the end of 2009, publicly funded crime labs around the U.S. had an estimated backlog of 1.2 million requests for forensic services, relatively unchanged from the previous year’s backlog, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. A request was defined as backlogged if it had not been completed within 30 days.

In 2009, the 411 federal, state, county, and municipal labs began with more than 1 million backlogged requests and received an estimated 4.1 million new requests for forensic services from law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies during the year. Forensic biology accounted for about a third (34 percent) of all requests received in 2009, and about three-quarters of the total backlog at yearend 2008 and 2009. Forensic biology involves the screening or DNA analysis of biological samples (such as blood and saliva) from criminal casework or for DNA database profiles. The analysis of controlled substances (33 percent) and toxicology (15 percent)—which involved examining blood, other body fluids and tissue for alcohol, drugs, and poisons—were the most requested services after forensic biology.

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