Annual report show cases awaiting analysis is reduced from 1,113 to 158 in 2004
SPRINGFIELD, IL - Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today that the Illinois State Police (ISP) have reduced the DNA Case and Offender Sample backlogs to their lowest levels in more than five years. The new figures were released in compliance with a law signed by the Governor in 2004 requiring the State Police to keep the Governor and Legislature informed on the status of the DNA backlog. The reductions reported today are a result of the Administration’s efforts to secure both state revenue and federal grant funding to allow for more rapid analysis of the cases in-house as well as outsourcing to a private vendor.
"Advances in DNA technology are among the most important tools law enforcement have to improve public safety and fight crime," Gov. Blagojevich said. "This dramatic reduction in untested DNA cases is a testament to the hard work and dedication of ISP Crime Lab Scientists to speed the wheels of justice and put those who choose a life of crime where they belong, behind bars."
Through additional resources provided to the agency, the ISP were able to reduce the backlog of cases awaiting DNA analysis to 158 by December 2004, down from 1,113 in January of last year. Also during that time period, the Offender Sample backlog was reduced from 58,835 samples awaiting analysis to 10,491 samples.
Governor Blagojevich directed $2.6 million for private analysis of DNA cases in FY 2004 while 13 new Forensic Scientists were in training. In addition, the Governor approved hiring six DNA Evidence Technicians to assist with the DNA case backlog. Funds were also secured through three Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) grants and one National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant, for a total of $1.7 million. The Governor allocated an additional $2.67 million in FY05 to continue private work on the backlog while the 13 scientists complete the final stages of training. ISP will also receive two NIJ grants, one ICJIA grant, and a grant from the Midwest Forensic Resource Center in FY05.
"Governor Blagojevich is providing us with the funding necessary to analyze thousands of samples previously backlogged within our crime labs. Investigators will now have conclusive information to assist them in solving open cases," stated Larry Trent, Director of the ISP. "In many instances, the information contained in these DNA samples can provide an indelible link to criminals attempting to elude authorities."
The tremendous increase in offender sample submissions sent to the ISP forensic laboratory system is a result of 2002’s "All Felons Legislation" that required law enforcement officials to take DNA samples from every convicted felon and sex offender. In an attempt to address the Offender Sample backlog, Governor Blagojevich directed $4.1 million in the past two fiscal years in support of this DNA Indexing program.
The ISP forensic science laboratory system, established in 1942, is recognized as the third largest crime laboratory system in the world, following the Forensic Science Services in Great Britain and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C. The system, encompassing eight operational laboratories and a Research and Development laboratory, provides crime scene and forensic science services to about 1,500 criminal justice agencies throughout Illinois.
Public Act 093-0785 requires the Illinois State Police to report information related to the backlog of DNA cases, measures that have been and/or are being taken to reduce the backlogs, and an estimate of the costs/expenditures involved. The information in this report is available in the Illinois State Police DNA Testing Accountability Report.