Lawmakers, crime victims' families call for action to expedite 13,000 backlogged DNA results
CHICAGO – Illinois state and Chicago city officials held a second public health joint-committee hearing regarding the processing of backlogged DNA evidence on Monday.
“This is a big problem, it’s a big challenge that we have here in this state and this city,” Illinois State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), Chairman of the Senate Public Health Committee, said at the hearing.
The State of Illinois is currently backlogged on 13,000 criminal cases that are awaiting DNA evidence to be analyzed, and 700 murders that are awaiting DNA test results, according to recent reports. Forensic experts say that it would take anywhere between two and five years to clear the DNA evidence backlog as it currently stands.
“These are our children, they are not statistics,” said Carmia Tang, one of several family members of victims present at the hearing. “Why do they not know how long it takes for the evidence to come back?”
“The backlog in murder DNA processing at the state crime lab is unacceptable,” exclaimed Van Pelt. “Technology exists to test DNA in under two hours, yet DNA from nearly 700 murder cases from the past few years is still backlogged. Law enforcement needs to be taking advantage of this technology. There are 700 families waiting for answers. They deserve closure.”
Regarding the possibility of introducing new technology that could substantially speed up the process of profiling DNA suspects, family members of the victims said that they are willing to try anything.
“Violent-crime cases are extremely time-sensitive and most of the time rely solely on DNA evidence,” added Sen. Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon). “To ensure justice for these victims and their families, we must make the timeliness of these test results a priority. I support the plan to invest in more technicians to combat the thousands of unfinished DNA tests dating back several years.”