Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Reed, Whitehouse Announce $200,000 for RI Crime Lab
PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to help law enforcement officials solve more crimes, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced that Rhode Island is receiving a $200,000 federal grant to help reduce the backlog of unprocessed DNA samples at the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory.
“Forensic DNA analysis helps solve crimes and put offenders behind bars. This federal funding will bolster the crime lab’s ability to effectively and efficiently analyze evidence and eliminate the backlog,” said Reed, who voted to create the DNA Backlog Reduction Program in 2000 and has since worked as a member of the Appropriations Committee to secure millions of dollars to help reduce the logjam in DNA evidence collection at the state and federal levels through this and other programs.
“This federal funding will give our crime lab the resources it needs to support the work of Rhode Island law enforcement agencies,” said Whitehouse, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, and a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General. “This is a smart investment that will help hold criminals accountable and keep Rhode Island families safe.”
The state’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory examines evidence and provides expert scientific opinion in legal and criminal cases for police departments, the Attorney General, the Medical Examiner, and other law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The laboratory helps detect and solve crimes, identify drunk drivers, and aids in the investigation of violent crimes, such as rape.
According to the latest FBI statistics, the national DNA Index System contains more than 11 million profile samples from federal, state, and local forensic laboratories who contribute to the system. As of June 2012, Rhode Island had a total of over 15,000 offender profiles and more than 500 forensic profiles and that DNA has assisted in almost 100 investigations.
Earlier this year, the Providence Journal reported that there were 110 cases backlogged at Rhode Island’s forensic lab, with an average turnaround time of 300 days.
This federal grant is administered through the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which assists state and local governments by providing advancements in scientific research, development, and evaluation. The money may be used for several different purposes such as upgrading lab equipment to better process, record, screen and analyze forensic DNA and/or DNA database samples, and increase the capacity of Rhode Island’s public forensic DNA and DNA database laboratory to process more DNA samples.