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180 Day Study Report: Status and Needs of United States Crime Laboratories

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2004
39 pages
This report by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) responds to a request by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice to provide information on the status and needs of crime laboratories throughout the United States as part of a 180-Day Study mandated by the U.S. Congress.
The ASCLD regularly monitors the work and the needs of crime labs throughout the United States. This report is based on the most recent survey (2002) of the 50 largest laboratories. These laboratories ended the year 2002 with a 134-percent increase in their backlogs. Approximately 80 percent of the backlogged requests involved controlled substances, latent prints, and DNA. There were also backlogs in work on firearms/toolmarks, toxicology, pre-DNA, and trace evidence. The primary need identified by lab managers was personnel in all sections. The cost of the additional personnel needed to achieve a 30-day turnaround time for all requests was estimated to be just over $36 million. Other needs include equipment (estimated to cost over $18 million), supplies, laboratory space, overtime, travel, and training. Lab directors need reliable information when making management decisions. A regular census of crime laboratories is needed to produce this information. Only 20 percent of forensic laboratories have resources for applied research. Funding for practitioner partnerships with universities is needed for such research. Crime labs must also receive assistance in developing innovative ways to work more efficiently in reducing case backlogs and in bringing forensic science processing of evidence to the crime scene. Laboratory personnel also need guidance in protective and analytical procedures in the event of a biological, chemical, or radiological attack. 73 references and resources

Date Published: May 1, 2004