Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $265,365)
The Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (AKSCDL), a division of the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS), is the agency that is responsible for analyzing evidentiary material associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies and medical examiners within the state of Alaska. All forensic biology/DNA work is performed in the main laboratory in Anchorage. Pursuant to AS 44.41.035, the DPS-AKSCDL is also the agency responsible for conducting analysis on DNA samples collected from convicted felony and misdemeanor offenders as well as certain felony misdemeanor arrestees in the state of Alaska; the AKSCDL is responsible for storing and maintaining the resultant profiles in the State DNA Index System.
As the only forensic laboratory providing DNA analysis in the State of Alaska, the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection laboratory (SCDL) is frequently the rate limiting step in the criminal justice system for processing sexual assault cases. Alaska has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest forcible rape rate of any state, which places a higher than average burden on the AKSCDL with approximately 13% of its total caseload related to sexual assault. The AKSCDL also receives a higher than average number of sexual assault cases that are not positive for the presence of seminal fluid. Furthermore, as technology improves, the laboratory is increasingly in a position of interpreting DNA profiles that are complex mixtures. With the high volume of sexual assaults, and the complex nature of the analysis, the forensic biology unit is significantly more expensive to operate than other laboratory disciplines. The Federal funding from this award will help to alleviate this burden by increasing the capacity of the laboratory and providing supplies for processing these cases.
This award will be specifically used for the following goals:
1. Reduce the backlog of cases pending DNA analysis.
2. Maintain the laboratory's capacity for processing DNA database samples.
3. Maintain the current capabilities of the Forensic Biology discipline.
4. Increase the capacity for processing forensic DNA casework.
The AKSCDL expects to analyze at least 105 forensic biology cases with overtime and supplies, and 3000 DNA database samples with supply funds. The lab also expects to reduce the turnaround time, seeking ultimately to achieve a turnaround of less than 90 days for casework and 45 days for DNA database.