Reduction in DNA backlog

News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Brendan F. Kelly announced the ISP Division of Forensic Services (DFS) achieved a 48% overall reduction in Biology/DNA pending assignments, commonly known as “the DNA backlog.” On March 1, 2019, the backlog consisted of 9,289 pending assignments. As of Nov. 30, 2020, forensic scientists worked the number of pending assignments down to 4,857.

“Since the beginning of my administration, we have prioritized implementing policies and procedures that will allow the dedicated forensics team at ISP’s Division of Forensic Services to reduce the state’s DNA backlog. Thanks to the leadership of the Forensic Science Task Force, which my administration established in 2019, additional recommendations to help further decrease the backlog are now underway,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I am encouraged by the 48% reduction in forensic cases and will continue to support ISP’s work to bring brings victims and their loved ones a step closer to justice.”

“For more than a decade, trends in forensic labs across the country, including in Illinois, have been headed the wrong direction, but because of the hard work and discipline of the Illinois State Police we are finally headed in the right direction in Illinois,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “Our progress is real and significant, but no one in the Illinois State Police will be satisfied until all victims can trust that the cause of justice will be advanced and not delayed by forensics.”

Remarkably, this reduction was achieved while having up to six forensic scientists from the biology/DNA section on loan for more than four months to the Illinois Department of Public Health to assist with COVID-19 testing.

Forensics outcomes across a variety of metrics have significantly improved.
• This year, the average age of pending DNA/Biology assignments has been reduced from 247 in
May 2019 to 110 days in November 2020.
• The number of DNA/Biology assignments that are older than a year was 1,329 in January 2020
but had dropped to 186 in November 2020.
• The number of pending sexual assault assignments that are more than six months old has gone
from 1,059 in January to 280 in November 2020.
• The DNA/Biology section is completing 22% more assignments per month this year compared
with 2019.

The ISP’s success in decreasing the forensic backlog are not limited to the Biology/DNA section.
• The latent print backlog was slashed by 35% this year and 78% since January 2019. Average
turnaround time for fingerprints this year has been reduced by 62% since 2019.
• Average turnaround time for firearms evidence this year has been reduced by 44% since 2019.
• The trace chemistry section is completing 49% more assignments per month than last year.

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