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House Approves Bill Related to DNA Backlog

The House on October 2 approved, by voice vote, a bill (H.R. 4640) that would help eliminate a backlog of DNA samples waiting to be analyzed in criminal cases. The measure was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on July 26 (see The Source, 7/31/00, p. 6).

Sponsored by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-FL), the bill would authorize funding for states to reduce the backlog of DNA samples to be analyzed and help states expand services, including providing more crime scene DNA tests. Additionally, the bill would authorize funding to compile the information gathered and enter it into the FBI’s database of sex offenders and murderers, which was created under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (P.L. 103-322).

A report conducted by the Department of Justice in 1997 found a backlog of 6,800 unprocessed DNA samples from investigations and 287,000 unprocessed DNA samples from convicted offenders. The bill received bipartisan praise. Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) said, “The Justice Department estimates that erasing the convicted offender backlog nationwide could resolve at least 600 cases.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said, “Reducing the backlog regarding DNA identification information in federal courts is very important for our criminal justice system. To the extent that this legislation helps to eliminate the backlog through these grants, we can work towards establishing a more reliable justice system.”

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