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Forensic DNA Education for Law Enforcement Decisionmakers

Causes of Backlog

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Causes of Backlog

Laboratory Backlog4

image of a lab technician writing something down
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

A backlog in a crime laboratory typically refers to evidence that has been received and is awaiting analysis.5 Evidence in a case, once received at the laboratory, goes through a prioritization process to determine the order in which the evidence is analyzed. Factors affecting the priority assigned to evidence include:

  • Court date
  • Serial crimes
  • Violent crimes
  • High-profile crimes
  • Political issues
  • Limited manpower

4 Matthew J. Hickman and Joseph L. Peterson, Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories 50 Largest Crime Labs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Fact Sheet (2004) PDF download: 484kB 
5 Federal Reviews and Audits:

United States Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory's Forensic DNA Case Backlog (2010) PDF download: 996kB • Visit the United States Department of Justice

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