RTI International webinar on backlogs in crime labs and their impact on the justice system
This morning I attended this webinar and learned more about the backlogs in crime labs, what causes them, whether all labs have a case acceptance policy, the costs involved and much more. The live discussion took place in Washington DC but was well attended online. The webinar’s chat-room was well attended and I saw comments that gave some practical insight in local labs and their procedures.
I could not help asking whether these backlogs affected the possibilities for evidence in cold cases to be re-examined. I am glad that I posed the question in the chat-room and repeated it because at the very end of the forum’s Q&A session my question got picked up! People attending responded and gave more insight in the issues involved.
During the webinar I made some mindmaps.
The first one (on the left) is about the differences between the efficiency of the lab and the technicians versus the cost efficiency of the lab and the consequences for the delays.
The second one (on the right) concerns some consequences of a cold case popping up that needs to be squeezed into the normal work-flow. Does it match the lab’s case acceptance policy? Are there enough discretionary funds to cover the costs of the extra physical activities involved such as locating the evidence and manually processing it?
Unfortunately, the time was up before I could ask more questions. I wanted to know whether each case acceptance policy should allow for time permitting emergency testing when there is a break in a cold case in that particular jurisdiction. Also, how much influence would the collaboration and communication with the district attorney’s office and local law enforcement have on a lab’s case acceptance policy? Could the cold case get priority over the normal case flow and be “bumped up” so to speak?