Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The DNA Backlog Crisis

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I didn’t even know about this one, but it’s interesting. Ben Protess writing for ProPublica:

Kellie Greene spent three years living in fear, waiting for police to catch the stranger who raped her.

Her fear slowly turned to bewilderment over the bureaucratic tangle that continues to put women like her at risk of violence.

First there was the three-year wait for a crime lab to test the DNA evidence that her attacker left on her leggings. Then, when the test results finally came back, she was horrified to learn that the man had committed an earlier rape. His DNA from that case was backlogged for two years, leaving him free to break into her Orlando, Fla., apartment, where he beat and raped her for almost an hour in 1994.

"Had they been able to test the DNA in that earlier case, my rape would have never happened," she said.

After her attack, Greene joined other rape victims in a crusade to expose the backlog of untested DNA evidence sitting in freezers and on shelves in police departments and crime labs nationwide. She spoke out about her ordeal in hopes of sparing other women similar pain.

In 2003, her efforts appeared to pay off. Greene stood with Attorney General John Ashcroft at the White House when he announced that the U.S. Justice Department planned to spend a billion dollars to eliminate the backlog. The aim of the mission: to help labs swiftly identify murderers, rapists and other dangerous criminals so they couldn’t strike again.

But at the same time, the Justice Department, along with Congress and state legislatures, adopted a conflicting agenda: to collect more DNA samples from wider swaths of the population.

The result: Today, 15 years after Greene began her campaign, the backlog continues to soar. At least 350,000 samples from murder and rape cases — many of them involving sexually abused children — remain untested, according to the federal government’s best estimates. In 2005, labs across the country saw their DNA backlogs nearly double.

Part of the uptick comes from …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 May 2009 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law, Technology

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