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Survey of DNA Crime Laboratories, 1998

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EST                    BJS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2000                      202/307-0784 
     WASHINGTON, D.C. The first federal survey of publicly
operated forensic crime labs throughout the country has
revealed as of December 31, 1997, the labs had at least
6,800 unprocessed DNA cases and an additional 287,000
unprocessed convicted offender DNA samples, the Justice
Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced
today.  It said there was a backlog of DNA samples in 69
percent of the 108 laboratories that participated in the
1998 survey.
     During 1997 public crime labs received about 21,000
cases involving DNA evidence for analysis and processed
about 14,000 of those cases.  As of June 1998, each of the
50 states statutorily requires the collection of DNA
samples from specified convicted offenders, primarily sex
offenders and other violent felons.  In 1997, laboratories
received 116,000 convicted offender samples for analysis,
an increase from 72,000 in 1996.  Of these totals, only
45,000 were analyzed in 1997 and 37,000 in 1996.
     To address the backlog, 44 percent of the forensic
labs hired additional staff members after 1997, 34 percent
had staffers working overtime and 13 percent are
contracting out part of the work to private facilities. 
These efforts are now being supported by an additional
fiscal year 2000 congressional appropriation, which
provided $15 million to help address the backlog and $15
million for the Crime Laboratory Improvement Program. 
     The survey was conducted as part of the Justice
Department's Forensic DNA Laboratory Improvement Program,
which was authorized by the DNA Identification Act of 1994,
a section of the 1994 Crime Act (Public Law 103-322).  The
program is intended to improve state and local forensic DNA
lab work and increase compliance with the FBI's Combined
DNA Index System.
     The National Institute of Justice funded the survey
to help identify workload and technology issues.  The
special report, "Survey of DNA Crime Laboratories" (NCJ-
179104), was written by BJS statistician Greg W. Steadman. 
Single copies may be obtained from the BJS  fax-on-demand
system by dialing 301/519-5550, listening to the complete
menu and selecting document number 189.  Or call the BJS
clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277.  Fax orders for mail
delivery to 410/792-4358.  The BJS Internet site is:
     Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained
from the Office of Justice Programs 
homepage at:
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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
Date Published: February 16, 2000