Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $290,726)
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 a 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.
Approximately 20% of the laboratory's forensic cases are submitted for DNA analysis. As the only forensic laboratory providing DNA analysis in the State of Alaska, the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection laboratory (SCDL) is occasionally the rate limiting step in the criminal justice system for prosecuting these cases. The AKSCDL receives a high number of sexual assault cases that are not positive for the presence of seminal fluid and that yield 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 providing supplies for processing these cases. Additionally, funding will assist the laboratory in maintaining some of its current capabilities and in meeting quality assurance requirements for accredited laboratories.
This award will be specifically used for the following goals:
1. Reduce the backlog of cases pending DNA analysis.
2. Maintain the current capabilities of the Forensic Biology Discipline.
3. Maintain the laboratory's capacity for processing DNA database samples.
The AKSCDL expects to analyze at least 172 forensic biology cases with overtime and supplies, and 3100 DNA database samples with supply funds. The lab also expects to continue decreasing the turnaround time for casework analyses, seeking ultimately to achieve a turnaround of less than 60 days for screening and DNA analysis. The turnaround time for database analysis will continue to meet the statutory requirement of 90 days.
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