The release of the 2020 DNA Accountability Report this week documented a continued reduction in the Biology/DNA forensic backlog.
The continuing backlog reduction has been accomplished through a cooperative effort between Governor JB Pritzker’s administration, the Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Forensic Services (DFS), legislators, stakeholders in the criminal justice system, forensic science community and victim advocacy groups. A copy of the 2020 DNA Accountability Report can be found here: https://www.isp.state.il.us/docs/6-684%207-20.pdf.
While Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 submissions for Biology analysis are up by 9% from FY 2019, the FY 2020 Biology backlog is down by 30% from FY 2019. The Biology Section completed 47% more assignments in FY2020 than in FY2019. In an effort to ensure this forward progress continues, the ISP hired eight Biology Forensic Scientist Trainees. The trainees began training in March 2020 and have an anticipated release from the trainee program in early 2022. To view monthly status updates on ISP DFS case completions, turnaround times, and workload, visit https://www.isp.state.il.us/forensics/statsdashboard.cfm.
“With the Forensic Science Task Force recommendations, the ISP is making good on its promises to support victims through transformational change and hard work. I am so proud of our forensic scientists bringing closure to crime victims across the state,” ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly said.
“This monumental effort started with a vision rooted in justice. Governor JB Pritzker’s administration and the legislature have been committed to shoring up this increasingly important pillar of the overall justice system, and the work done by the front-line scientists of the Illinois State Police.” Kelly continued, “But now is not the time to become complacent so we will continue to pursue further reductions in the backlog.”
Under DFS’s guidance, implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations to further reduce forensic testing backlogs has seen success. The below is a graphic representation of the progress in the implementation of those recommendations and a timeline with which changes to the ISP DFS are being made.
The mission of the ISP DFS is to deliver complete, accurate, and timely crime scene evidence collection and forensic analysis to every law enforcement agency within the state. With six laboratories and nearly 500 forensic services personnel, DFS completed more than 70,000 forensic assignments last year.