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Helping Labs Increase Capacity and Reduce Backlogs

Date Published
May 19, 2019
Paul A. Haskins


In fiscal year 2020, all state and local forensic capacity enhancement programs previously administered by NIJ, including most of the programs listed on this page, moved to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Sidebar to the article Searching for the Missing in a City of Millions, by Jim Dawson, published in NIJ Journal issue no. 281.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, DNA analysis gained widespread acceptance among forensic and legal practitioners. Since then, the criminal justice system has come to rely on DNA analysis as a critical tool for generating new leads, closing cases, and correcting errors. As more and more DNA samples are sent to the nation’s crime laboratories each year, however, the backlog of unprocessed samples continues to grow. Laboratories continually improve their processing speed and efficiency, with help from NIJ research and development funding. Despite increased capacity, backlogs nevertheless remain a persistent issue because demand for DNA analysis is growing too quickly for capacity to keep pace.

NIJ leads the federal government’s efforts to address the needs of the forensic science community. Since 2004, the cornerstone of NIJ’s response to the DNA evidence backlog has been the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) program. The CEBR program has awarded more than 2,000 grants totaling almost $1 billion to support forensic DNA processing and analysis in the nation’s crime laboratories. CEBR grantees have used NIJ’s support to complete more than 860,000 cases, upload more than 376,000 forensic profiles to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), and produce more than 192,000 CODIS hits.

About the Author

Paul A. Haskins is a social science writer and contractor with Leidos.

About This Article

This article was published as part of NIJ Journal issue number 281, published May 2019, as a sidebar to the article Searching for the Missing in a City of Millions, by Jim Dawson.

Date Published: May 19, 2019