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Forensic DNA Education for Law Enforcement Decisionmakers


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One of the keystones of effective case management and reasonable expectations is the development of fluid communication systems between all parties involved with the case. Crime laboratories, investigative agencies and prosecutors need a mechanism to communicate reasonable case turnaround times and backlog management issues between the parties. This mechanism should include the causes and effects of issues contributing to backlogs.1

image of a microscope, an office building, and a set of scales.
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

Laboratories need to communicate the consequences of extraordinary requests on its operations. For example, a request to rush the analysis of one case will affect completion of other cases. Agencies and prosecutors need to prioritize evidence and limit the number of evidentiary items submitted for testing.2 This will shorten turnaround times in the laboratory and decrease backlogs.3 All parties should be kept informed of case status and evidence submitted for analysis, and agencies should quickly notify the laboratory when analysis is no longer needed.

1 Mark Nelson, Making Sense of DNA Backlogs, 2010 — Myths vs. Reality NIJ Special Report (2011) PDF download: 1.1MB • Visit the National Criminal Justice Reference System »
2 Missouri Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory Department Newsletter: Under the Scope, Help Control the DNA Backlog, Vol.7, Iss.1 (2007) PDF download: 116kB • Visit the Missouri State Highway Patrol »
3 Jeanne Hayes, Survey: Forensic Testing Turnaround Times In 50 States, Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, (2010) »

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