State's crime laboratory system
Send a link to a friend
Continues effort to speed up analysis of DNA
crime kits, give law enforcement best possible evidentiary tools
[JULY 22, 2004]
SPRINGFIELD -- Building on
his effort to strengthen the state's crime laboratories, Gov. Rod
Blagojevich on Wednesday signed three bills into law that will help
prosecutors and law enforcement officers gain access to valuable
evidence more quickly. House Bill 4424, Senate Bill 2201 and Senate
Bill 3014 will help ensure that DNA cases, including sexual assault
cases, are solved in a more timely fashion and that laboratory
operations are of the highest standards.
"Public safety has consistently been a
high priority for my administration.
These bills will support our continuing effort to use the best
technology available to bring criminals to justice and vindicate the
innocent," Gov. Blagojevich said.
The Illinois State Police oversees the
DNA testing and analysis of sexual assault kits and other criminal
evidence and currently has more than 40,000 offender samples in its
database. The All Felons Act, passed in August 2002, mandated the
collection of DNA samples from all convicted felons, including those
already incarcerated in the state's prisons. The act significantly
increased the number of cases being sent to Illinois State Police
crime labs. To help the labs catch up with demand, Gov. Blagojevich
in January committed an additional $2.6 million to helping clear the
DNA backlog. As a result, the backlog has been drastically reduced
from 1,113 cases in January to just 176 cases. The funding also
allowed the department to hire more forensics personnel, who are
currently taking part in an accelerated training program.
The bills signed Wednesday will help
keep the backlog under control and will maximize the benefits of the
DNA analysis for prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
House Bill 4424 requires that all sexual assault evidence
already housed in the state's crime labs but not yet analyzed must
be tested within two years of the bill's signing, if resources and
staffing are available. For all evidence collected after the bill's
signing, the analysis must be done within one year's time. Improving
the timeliness of the comparisons will help to clear investigative
Additionally, the bill requires the
Illinois State Police to compare any DNA from the evidence to both
the Illinois State Police and FBI Combined DNA Index System
databases. These databases combine forensic science and computer
technology into an effective tool for solving violent crimes and
enable federal, state and local crime labs to exchange and compare
DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking crimes to each other
and to convicted offenders.
The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1,
2005. It was sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins, D-Chicago, and
Rep. Harry Osterman, D-Chicago.
[to top of second column in
Senate Bill 3014, also signed by Gov. Blagojevich on Wednesday,
deals directly with the DNA backlog. This bill requires the Illinois
State Police to annually report the backlog of cases awaiting
testing or DNA analysis in its forensic laboratory system. The
agency will detail the measures being taken to reduce the backlog,
such as the outsourcing of cases or the hiring of additional
personnel, and the resources needed to do so. The report is due to
the governor and the General Assembly each year on Feb. 1.
With all the information in one concise
report on an annual basis, the governor and General Assembly will be
able to monitor the progress of the testing and analysis and respond
accordingly to any critical needs. Additionally, the bill provides
for the information in the report to be made available to the public
on the official website of the
Illinois State Police.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Kirk
Dillard, R-Westmont, and Rep. Patricia R. Bellock, R-Westmont.
Senate Bill 2201, the third crime-lab bill signed into law by
the governor on Wednesday, creates the Illinois Laboratory Advisory
Committee. This committee will focus on improving proficiency and
quality in all private and state laboratories conducting scientific
testing, including forensic testing. The committee will make
recommendations on improving policy and procedures for information
disclosure to defense and prosecution counsel. It will also examine
issues ranging from staffing and funding needs to ways to enhance
Illinois homeland security through the coordination of laboratory
services with the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.
The 15-member oversight committee,
appointed by the heads of state agencies and law enforcement
officials, will consist of scientists and attorneys with expertise
in scientific evidence. All members will be unpaid.
The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1,
2005. It was sponsored by Sen. John J. Cullerton, D-Chicago, and
Rep. Marlow Colvin, D-Chicago.
bills will serve to improve the timeliness, information sharing and
overall efficiency of the nine laboratories in the Illinois State
Police forensic science laboratory system.
[News release from the