Home A project of States Newsroom
Federal dollars helping DNA backlog at state’s forensic laboratory


Federal dollars helping DNA backlog at state’s forensic laboratory

Nov 10, 2023 | 11:50 am ET
By Hadley Barndollar
Federal dollars helping DNA backlog at state’s forensic laboratory
The Department of Safety is hoping a series of federal grants will help clear a backlog of items that need DNA testing for criminal investigations. (Getty Images)

Cases requiring DNA analysis are currently taking more than 10 months to analyze at the State Police Forensic Laboratory, the sole provider of such services in the state. 

A series of federal DNA Backlog Reduction grants awarded to the state Department of Safety will hopefully assist in increasing throughput, the department wrote to the Fiscal Committee ahead of its Nov. 9 meeting. The money will enhance capacity, pay for overtime and continuing education, and allow for the purchase of additional equipment. 

The laboratory’s Forensic Biology Unit performs all serological and DNA analyses associated with criminal investigations in the state, and is also responsible for analysis and entry of offender and casework samples into the Combined DNA Index System database.

It receives and analyzes evidence from more than 220 city and town police departments, as well as state law enforcement agencies and, on occasion, federal law enforcement.

“The (laboratory) is experiencing hardship related to aging equipment, limited space with no ability to expand, and continuing budgetary limitations,” the Department of Safety told the Fiscal Committee.

Across the separate grants awarded between 2021 and this year, the department has received more than $1.4 million in DNA Backlog Reduction grants.

The federal funding will be used for the following:

  • Maintaining and making improvements to the turnaround time for forensic biology casework
  • Reducing the current DNA database backlog and making significant improvements to turnaround time of samples for database entry
  • Ensuring continuity of operations
  • Ensuring continuing adherence to the FBI’s Quality Assurance Standards
  • Replacing out of service equipment and equipment that’s aging toward failure
  • Improving software
  • Reconfiguring and remodeling the DNA laboratory layout