Beginning in July, every person convicted of a serious or violent crime in the state of Michigan will be required to submit to DNA testing. The hope is that a comprehensive database of violent offenders will perhaps clear up some cold cases and also help police solve crimes down the road.
However, your pocketbook isn’t the only thing feeling the pinch; the state and county budgets are as well. With the number of violent and serious convictions that happen in Michigan, the DNA crime labs have their work cut out for them. State Police labs took over Detroit’s DNA testing last year due to some problems with misidentification occurring in the Detroit labs, further increasing the burden on them.
Getting results from DNA tests was averaging 95 days in 2006. Now, however, due to backlog that expected wait time is up to 207 days according to this report from The Detroit News. An additional 20,000 DNA entries will be added to the database every year, according to the current crime rates.
Adding this new law means more people will have to be trained in obtaining the samples, testing the samples, and handling the increased evidence in the labs. The cost of the DNA swabs is also something the state has to wrangle with. At $4.50 per swab the expense can add up.
According to the Detroit News the new law will require about $300,000 to $400,000 additional funds every year in Lansing alone. This is on top of the $2.3 million budgeted annually for the Lansing labs.
A noble cause with a hefty price tag, this law couldn’t come at any worse of a time. Budgets are tight and this influx of evidence will no doubt slow the system and create bigger backlogs.
Evidence, like DNA, must be handled with the utmost care and under specific procedures. It is my hope that in an effort to speed the process, steps aren’t skipped and more mistakes made in the processing of the DNA evidence.
The results of criminal trials often hang on the reputability of the evidence at hand. If you are facing criminal charges, one thing an experienced defense attorney will do is look over how the evidence in your case was handled and processed; looking for any potential challenges that could be brought up in court.