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Clearing the DNA Logjam

NCJ Number
Date Published
1 page

This article examines the DNA backlog and possible solutions to reducing the number of DNA samples waiting to be analyzed for inclusion in national and State databases.


DNA analysis remains one of the most effective ways of narrowing a criminal investigation. Yet DNA analysis is rarely used in cases in which there is no suspect. The reason is that the Nation’s crime laboratories have a lengthy backlog of DNA samples for analysis and cases in which there is a suspect take precedence over nonsuspect cases. While some States have begun sending DNA samples to private laboratories for analysis, this is an expensive proposition. In an effort to examine the problem and determine solutions, the DNA commission, created in 1997, has proposed that the U.S. Department of Justice set up a grant program to provide funding for States using private laboratories to analyze DNA samples. The use of DNA databases in the United Kingdom and in the United States is contrasted; the United Kingdom has a vast DNA database that it uses as a primary investigative tool. In the United States, it is expected to take an estimated 2 years to analyze the DNA backlog with the help of Federal funding and the outsourcing of DNA samples to private laboratories. Contact information is presented to learn more about the DNA commission.

Date Published: January 1, 1998