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National Institute of Justice - The Research, Development, and Evaluation Agency of the U.S. Department of Justice   NIJ
Programs Presidential Initiative: Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology
Attorney General's Initiative on DNA Laboratory Backlogs
Working Group Membership
Meeting Transcripts
Report to the AG
President's DNA Initiative
Related Links
NIJ's DNA-Related Programs
NIJ Home


On March 11, 2003, Attorney General Ashcroft announced the President's commitment to a comprehensive national strategy using DNA technology to solve crime and to protect the innocent. DNA technology is increasingly vital to ensuring accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system. It can be used to speed the prosecution of the guilty, while protecting the innocent from wrongful prosecution. 'Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology' is a billion-dollar, five year federal initiative that will strengthen and improve the current federal and state DNA collection and analysis systems. The Initiative also calls for the creation of a National Forensic Science Commission to assess the needs of the forensic science community, and to stimulate public awareness of and interest in the uses of forensic technology to solve crimes.


DNA evidence has become a powerful tool for identifying the guilty and exonerating the innocent of serious crime. But as more offender DNA samples are collected and law enforcement becomes better trained and equipped to collect DNA samples at crime scenes, the backlog of samples awaiting testing throughout the criminal justice system has increased. In August 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft directed NIJ to assess criminal justice system delays in the analysis of DNA evidence and develop recommendations to eliminate those delays.

In response, NIJ convened a working group comprising a broad cross-section of criminal justice and forensic science experts. The group met twice in 2002 to discuss the nature and causes of DNA backlogs and possible strategies for reducing the backlogs. Counseled by the findings of this working group, NIJ submitted a report to the Attorney General with a series of recommendations to eliminate the DNA testing backlog and to build the Nation's capacity to routinely use DNA evidence as an investigative tool.


Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology

Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology

This report provides an overview of the President's initiative to improve the use of DNA in the criminal justice system by providing funding, training, and assistance. The President has proposed $1 billion in funding over 5 years to fulfill the goals of the initiative: reduce the DNA testing backlog, build crime lab capacity, stimulate research and development, support training, protect the innocent, and identify missing persons.

Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology is online at the Department of Justice Web site.


Report to the Attorney General on Delays in Forensic DNA Analysis

Report to the Attorney General on Delays in Forensic DNA Analysis

Although crime laboratories have made enormous progress in reducing the number of unanalyzed convicted offender samples for DNA databases, they continue to be deluged with analysis requests. This NIJ report presents the results of a task force, convened by NIJ at the request of Attorney General John Ashcroft, to assess existing DNA analysis delays and develop recommendations for eliminating those delays. The report details six recommendations that will serve as the foundation of a comprehensive, national DNA backlog reduction strategy.

Full text of the Report: