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Why Is There an Evidence Backlog?

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2017
2 pages
This 2-minute animated video explains how and why an evidence backlog occurs and persists.
The central figure portrayed in the video is Sarah, a lab scientist whose job is to analyze all evidence brought into the lab from a crime scene. She has just completed evidence analysis for a case, and she faces analyses of more evidence brought in from other investigations. Confronted with a growing backlog of evidence requiring analysis, she remembers a Solicitation she received from the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) that would provide additional funding for lab staff and resources. She applies for and receives NIJ funding for increasing lab capacity. The additional resources of personnel and equipment enabled by the new funding are used to reduce the evidence backlog. Evidence analysis is done faster, allowing the police to clear cases faster. The evidence backlog begins to decrease; however, as it becomes known that the lab has increased its capacity to analyze more evidence than in the past, more evidence begins to be submitted for analysis, and lab productivity is once again insufficient to prevent a growing evidence backlog. It becomes clear that if lab resources and productivity do not continue to expand as evidence productivity increases, then an evidence backlog will persist.

Date Published: November 1, 2017