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Making Sense of DNA Backlogs, 2012 - Myths vs. Reality

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2013
20 pages
This report updates the status of DNA backlogs in the United States in 2012 from a similar report for 2010 (NCJ 232197).
Although laboratory capacity for processing DNA evidence has increased and laboratories processed 10 percent more forensic DNA cases in 2011 than in 2009, DNA backlogs continued to increase, because the demand for forensic DNA casework in 2011 increased by 16.4 percent over 2009 demands. Thus, the demand continues to outpace the Nation's capacity to process forensic DNA. A "backlogged" case is defined as "one that has not been closed by a final report within 30 days after receipt of the evidence into the laboratory." The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) further requires reporting laboratories to define a "backlogged" DNA from convicted offenders and arrestees as "one that has not been tested and uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) within 30 days of the receipt of the sample into the laboratory." Efforts to expand laboratory capacity for processing forensic DNA data and convicted offender and arrestee DNA samples have included increased automation, the hiring of more personnel, the use of overt-time, and improved testing procedures and methods. The Federal Government has funded these activities through NIJ's DNA Backlog Reduction Program. Although 52.2 percent fewer database samples from convicted offenders and arrestees were completed in 2011 than in 2009, new demands to test and upload database samples declined 51.2 percent; as a result, the overall workload decreased 46.3 percent from 2009. NIJ's funding program for expanding laboratories' capacity for DNA processing is based in a holistic, evidence-based, three-step approach: research and development in new technologies for processing DNA, the implementation of these new technologies development, and testing and evaluation to ensure the technologies work as intended. 10 exhibits

Date Published: December 1, 2013