Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

The HPD crime lab backlog

I just have one question about this:

Lengthy waits for Houston police to test evidence for DNA is an increasingly common problem in the Harris County judicial system, prosecutors say. The understaffed HPD crime lab currently has a backlog of 1,434 cases with newly collected forensic evidence that has not been tested, and prosecutors worry that dangerous criminals remain free as the backlog grows by 75 new cases a month.

“The big deal is when they (HPD ) don’t have the resources to do the analysis, then we don’t have the evidence to charge somebody with a crime. And that person might go out and hurt somebody else,“ said Maria McAnulty, who heads the trial bureau at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney Pat Lykos is lobbying hard to have HPD turn over the testing of all new blood and DNA evidence to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. That would free up HPD crime lab’s 20-person DNA staff to work exclusively on a separate backlog of more than 4,000 rape kits, some of which date to 1994.

“HPD doesn’t have the capacity, and that’s why it is absolutely imperative that the city and the county enter into an agreement,“ Lykos said.

County officials are developing cost estimates for an interim DNA lab to do the testing for the county and city, and have proposed a vacant 20,000-square-foot lab in the Medical Center. The testing could begin in six months at an estimated cost of $20 million a year.

Where’s Harris County going to find the money to pay for that? You can blame the city of Houston for this if you’d like, but the same question applies. Right now, at every level of government, we don’t have the money to pay for the things we want. It’s easy to talk about cuts, but stuff like this is the consequence. Until we come to grips with the fact that what we have is a revenue issue, and we become willing to do something serious about it, problems like this will never go away.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.