DNA: Background, Laws and Backlog of Evidence


Tomáš Koláček (Editor)

Series: Genetics – Research and Issues
BISAC: SCI029000

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the fundamental building block for an individual’s entire genetic makeup. DNA is a powerful tool for law enforcement investigations because each person’s DNA is different from that of every other individual (except for identical twins). As early as the 1980s, states began enacting laws that required the collection of DNA samples from offenders convicted of certain sexual and other violent crimes. Chapter 1 provides an overview of how DNA is used to investigate crimes and help protect the innocent. Chapters 2and 3 report on the establishment of a system for integration of Rapid DNA instruments for use by law enforcement to reduce violent crime and reduce the current DNA analysis backlog.

Chapter 4 examines what is known about the amount of backlogged DNA evidence at state and local government labs; the extent to which OJP measures CEBR grant performance; and the extent to which OJP has designed controls to identify conflicts of interest related to CEBR grants. Chapter 5 reviews the level of crime scene DNA evidence backlogs among CEBR grantees and the factors that contribute to such backlogs; the extent to which DOJ has clearly defined goals for CEBR; and the extent to which OJP has controls for CEBR related to federal conflicts of interest and lobbying requirements.

In 2016, about 323,000 individuals age 12 or older were reported victims of sexual assault, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Studies have shown that exams performed by sexual assault forensic examiners—medical providers trained in collecting and preserving forensic evidence—may result in better physical and mental health care for victims, better evidence collection, and higher prosecution rates. Chapter 6 describes what was known in 2016 about the availability of sexual assault forensic examiners nationally and in selected states and the challenges selected states faced in maintaining a supply of sexual assault forensic examiners.
(Imprint: SNOVA)


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. DNA Testing in Criminal Justice: Background, Current Law, and Grants
Nathan James
Chapter 2. Rapid DNA Act of 2017
Chapter 3. Providing for Consideration of the Bill (S. 139) to Implement the Use of Rapid DNA Instruments to Inform Decisions about Pretrial Release or Detention and Their Conditions, to Solve and Prevent Violent Crimes and Other Crimes, to Exonerate the Innocent, To Prevent DNA Analysis Backlogs, and for Other Purposes
Chapter 4. DNA Evidence: DOJ Should Improve Performance Measurement and Properly Design Controls for Nationwide Grant Program
Chapter 5. DNA Evidence: Preliminary Observations on DOJ’s DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Grant Program
Statement of Gretta L. Goodwin
Chapter 6. Sexual Assault: Information on the Availability of Forensic Examiners
Statement of A. Nicole Clowers


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