OJP Press Release letterhead

September 23, 2004
Contact: Office of Justice Programs


     DETROIT, MI - Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Deborah J. Daniels announced today that the Justice Department has awarded $3.5 million in DNA grants throughout Michigan to solve crime and exonerate the innocent as part of President Bush'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 $230,328 has been awarded in Michigan to improve forensic services.

     "DNA promises to be the most remarkable crime-fighting tool of the 21st century," said Assistant Attorney General Daniels. "These resources will help Michigan reduce its backlog of unanalyzed DNA samples, which will help solve more crime and breathe life into old cases. The Justice Department is committed to helping Michigan enhance its forensic programs to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent."

     In Michigan, DNA technology is being used to solve crime and exonerate the innocent. In 1991, a Detroit man raped and murdered a Northwest Airlines fight attendant in a hotel room. The case was unsolved until 2001, when police say they were able to match the man's DNA with samples taken from the victim's body. More information about DNA technology is available at www.dna.gov.

     The Assistant Attorney General announced the following grants for Michigan:

Total FY 2004 DNA Initiative Funds Awarded: $3,449,679

Michigan State Police:       $683,286 (DNA laboratory capacity enhancement)
                                    $2,161,567 (DNA forensic casework backlog reduction)

City of Detroit:       $419,825 (DNA laboratory capacity enhancement)

Michigan State University       $185,001 (DNA research and development grant)

Other FY 2004 Forensics Grants Awarded: $230,328

Michigan Crime Victims Services Commission       $230,328 (Coverdell formula grant)

Total FY 2004 DNA and Forensics Grants: $3,680,007

     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.