IG faults FBI for backlog of unexamined DNA evidence

The FBI confronts a growing bottleneck of forensic DNA cases that could take about two years to clear if nothing changes, according to a review by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The Federal Times reports that, as of March, that backlog stood at 3,211 cases, threatening delays in criminal proceedings, failure to capture criminals, and prolonged imprisonment of people who might otherwise be exonerated by DNA evidence, the report says. While the FBI is bringing on board 17 additional forensic examiners, hiring and training them could take 12 to 18 months, “and therefore would not have a significant impact on the current backlog for almost two years,” it says. In a July 28 response attached to the report, Amy Jo Lyons, assistant director of the FBI’s inspection division, said that the forensic backlog had dropped since March, but added that the bureau has not gotten all the money and staff it has requested for the DNA program since 2004. “The FBI believes that our backlog numbers could be significantly lower had resources kept pace with the escalating submissions,” she said.