skip navigation

Add your conference to our Justice Events calendar


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the NCJRS Abstracts Database. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.

  NCJ Number: NCJ 230415     Find in a Library
  Title: Making Sense of DNA Backlog-Myths vs. Reality
  Document URL: PDF 
  Author(s): Mark Nelson
  Journal: NIJ Journal  Issue:266  Dated:June 2010  Pages:20 to 25
  Date Published: 06/2010
  Page Count: 6
  Series: NIJ Journal
  Annotation: After defining what constitutes a DNA backlog, this article discusses why DNA backlogs persist, why the demand for DNA testing is increasing, and what is being done to address the DNA backlog.
  Abstract: There is no industry-wide definition of a DNA backlog. The U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) defines a DNA backlogged case as one that has not been tested 30 days after it was submitted to the laboratory. Any discussion of and research on DNA backlogs should consider the varying definitions of the term, with attention to length of time from receipt of a specimen to completion of the DNA testing, as well as the type of backlog being referenced. There are two types of backlogs: casework backlogs and convicted offender/arrestee DNA backlogs. Casework backlogs are composed of forensic evidence collected from crime scenes, victims, and suspects in criminal cases. Convicted offender and arrestee DNA backlogs involve DNA samples taken from convicted offenders and arrestees pursuant to Federal and State laws. The latter type of DNA samples are significantly easier and faster to analyze than casework samples because they are collected on identical media (usually a paper product). Although crime laboratories have increased their capacity to process DNA samples, they are not able to eliminate their backlogs because the demand continues to exceed the increases in capacity. The demand for DNA testing is increasing because of increased recognition of its value in determining guilt or innocence and the expanded number of reasons for collecting and testing DNA samples from crime scenes and individuals. Although laboratory capacity for processing DNA samples has increased, primarily through Federal funding, this effort has not kept pace with the increased demand for DNA testing. Until laboratories’ capacity to conduct DNA testing regularly matches increases in demand, DNA backlogs will persist. 2 figures and 3 resources
  Main Term(s): Criminology
  Index Term(s): Crime Laboratories (Crime Labs) ; Evidence ; Funding sources ; National Institute of Justice (NIJ) ; DNA fingerprinting
  Type: Issue Overview
  Country: United States of America
  Language: English
  To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.