By Katie Dougherty
PBN Contributing Writer
PROVIDENCE - Rhode Island will receive a $200,000 federal grant to help reduce the backlog of unprocessed DNA samples at the R.I. Department of Health’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory, U.S. Sens Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced Wednesday.
The grant, administered through the National Institute of Justice, will allow for upgraded lab equipment and an increase in the capacity of the state’s public forensic DNA and DNA database laboratory to process more samples.
According to the latest FBI statistics, as of June 2012, Rhode Island had a total of more than 15,000 offender profiles and 500 forensic profiles, and that DNA has assisted in almost 100 investigations. The state’s forensic lab had an average turnaround time of 300 days, according to a recent report.
“Forensic DNA analysis helps solve crimes and put offenders behind bars. This federal funding will bolster the crime lab’s ability to effectively and efficiently analyze evidence and eliminate the backlog,” said Reed in a prepared release.
Rhode Island’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory examines evidence and provides an expert scientific opinion in legal and criminal cases for numerous law enforcement and regulatory agencies including police departments, the attorney general and the medical examiner.
“This federal funding will give our crime lab the resources it needs to support the work of Rhode Island law enforcement agencies,” said Whitehouse, former U.S. attorney and attorney general. “This is a smart investment that will help hold criminals accountable and keep Rhode Island families safe.”