DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AWARDS $4.6 MILLION TO
COLUMBIA, SC - Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Christopher A. Wray announced today that the Justice Department has awarded $1.5 million in DNA grants throughout South Carolina to solve crime and exonerate the innocent as part of the President's DNA Initiative, Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology. These are the first grants to be awarded under the President's initiative, a five-year, more than $1 billion effort to eliminate casework and the convicted offender backlog; improve crime lab capacity; provide DNA training; provide for post-conviction DNA testing; and conduct testing to identify missing persons. An additional $3,098,427 is being awarded in South Carolina to improve criminal justice forensic services.
"DNA is a remarkable crime-fighting tool," said Assistant Attorney General Wray. "Many families of victims and survivors will see justice done because of this technology. The families of South Carolina will be safer as a result of these resources. The Justice Department is committed to helping South Carolina enhance its forensic programs to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent."
In 2001 in Saluda County, South Carolina, a man was convicted of assaulting and raping a 92 year-old woman. At trial, prosecutors established that he broke into her apartment, then beat and raped her. Using DNA analysis, investigators identified the victim's blood on his clothing. More information about DNA technology is available at www.dna.gov.
The Assistant Attorney General announced the following grants for South Carolina:
Total FY 2004 DNA Initiative Funding Awarded: $1,493,240
Richland County Government: $71,129 (DNA laboratory capacity enhancement)
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division: $614,654 (DNA laboratory capacity enhancement)
Other FY 2004 Forensics Grants Awarded: $3,098,427
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division: $1,484,216 (grants to improve criminal justice forensic services)
South Carolina Department of Public Safety: $94,762 (Coverdell formula grant)
Greenville County Medical Examiner: $35,233 (Coverdell discretionary grant)
Total FY 2004 DNA and Forensics Grants: $4,591,667
Throughout the country there is a large backlog of unanalyzed DNA samples, which can significantly delay criminal investigations. According to a study funded by the Justice Department, there are 542,700 DNA records waiting to be tested.
Earlier this week, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the total funding for the President's DNA initiative is nearly $95 million. The initiative aims to reduce the DNA analysis backlog and allow law enforcement agencies to use DNA evidence promptly as a routine law enforcement tool. The Justice Department has awarded the grants directly to the local jurisdictions, which usually have the greatest DNA backlog. The grants will be administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research, development and evaluation component of the Justice Department.
Nationwide, NIJ awarded $38 million for DNA casework; $28 million for DNA capacity building for crime lab improvement; $4.7 million for DNA training; $7.9 million for DNA research and development; $1.9 million for DNA testing for missing persons; and $14 million for convicted offender testing. In addition, NIJ will spend $9.5 million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants, over $2.3 million for general forensics research and development; and provide $42 million in additional crime lab improvement funds. This funding represents the largest amount of money provided by DOJ to support state and local forensic efforts.
DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid, the material of chromosomes, which identifies a person's unique genetic makeup. Databases of convicted offenders' DNA help provide law enforcement with leads in unsolved cases in which a suspect's blood, semen, saliva, or hair was left behind.
Newer DNA analysis techniques can yield results from biological evidence invisible to the naked eye, even when the evidence is contaminated. Police departments throughout the country are reexamining unsolved rape and homicide cases using advanced methods of detecting identifiable DNA. Newly processed DNA profiles are uploaded into the FBI database, CODIS, so the data can be compared with evidence in the national system. Matches are reported to law enforcement and then verified by obtaining and analyzing a second sample from the suspect.