The turnaround time for DNA analysis in New York City sexual-assault cases has increased four fold in five years, a rise that crime-victim advocates called troubling, reports the Wall Street Journal. The median time to complete DNA analysis in a sexual assault case at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s Department of Forensic Biology rose to 89 days in fiscal year 2013, up from 46 days in fiscal year 2012 and 17.5 days in fiscal year 2009. The median time to complete DNA analysis in homicide cases also rose, from 97 days in 2009 to 161 days in 2013, an increase of 66 percent.
The medical examiner’s office analyzes evidence gathered from sexual-assault victims, including semen, blood and hair, and tries to find matches with the extracted DNA in databases of criminals. Medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer blamed the lagging analyses on a higher number of samples to analyze and a new information-management system that caused delays because staff needed to be retrained. Bolcer said her office has “now cleared cases, restructured work flow and reduced turnaround times. We aim to have one of the lowest turnaround times in the nation by mid-2014.”