21st CENTURY CRIME LABS
Well-equipped and well-managed state and local crime labs are a critical element of a local agency's ability to solve crimes. However, although advances are being made in forensic technology, the nation's 350 crime labs often do not have the resources to acquire and apply these technologies.
The $75 million initiative proposed by the President in FY 2000 is a big step toward dramatically improving the nation's state and local crime labs, which provide 95 percent of the forensics support to local law enforcement agencies. This initiative would establish a regional forensic support network of forensics experts from federal national laboratories, universities, and other research programs.
A crucial part of this initiative is to improve DNA testing by complementing ongoing FBI initiatives to enhance their effectiveness. This would include funds for research on rapid high-throughput technologies and methods for rapid processing of evidence samples and DNA testing, which is performed on samples both to build a felon database and to help solve crimes.
The National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence has strongly recommended rapid development of the DNA database. In Virginia alone, this database has already identified dozens of suspects in old, unsolved cases for which there were no leads. Nationwide, over the past decade, on the basis of DNA testing, 53 people