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Perspectives on Addressing the Collection, Tracking, and Processing of Lawfully Owed DNA Samples

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2021
23 pages

This report identifies potential barriers to the collection, tracking, and processing of DNA samples of arrestees and convicted offenders, as well as policies that have effectively addressed some of these barriers.


Just over a decade ago, a legislative movement emerged to require the collection of lawfully owed DNA to be entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). CODIS facilitates matching unknown contributors of DNA in a current investigation to the DNA of a known offender or arrestee whose DNA was obtained and submitted to CODIS in a previous criminal case. This process is undermined when lawfully mandated collections of DNA from offenders/arrestees are not promptly done and entered into CODIS for potential future matches in criminal investigations. The current report features recommendations for more effective tracking, collection, and testing of lawfully owed DNA samples that will ensure state and national DNA databases are appropriately and efficiently maintained to comply with state and national legislation. Although state legislation has expanded the types of offenses for which offenders/arrestees must submit a DNA sample, additional work is needed to ensure compliance with these mandates to collect, submit to a laboratory for testing, and upload DNA to CODIS. Historically, the federal National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) program and the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA’s) National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) have both provided funding opportunities for the collection, tracking, processing, and data management of lawfully owed DNA samples. These programs have been instrumental in addressing the needs and challenges related to processing increasing volumes of lawfully owed DNA samples. This report also profiles other programs intended to address this issue, with case studies included. 2 tables and appended sample aids

Date Published: April 1, 2021