|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||NIJ||MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2000||202/307-0703|
ALASKA RECEIVES GRANT TO ELIMINATE DNA SAMPLE BACKLOG
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Alaska is receiving $80,650 to analyze DNA samples obtained from convicted criminals, the Justice Department announced today. The grant, being made by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Department's primary research and evaluation agency, will enable DNA samples, after analysis, to be entered into Alaska's system and the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) allowing the comparison of the specimens to those housed in other states through the national system.
Alaska is one of 14 states that has received funds totaling almost $10 million under NIJ's DNA Backlog Reduction program. By September 30, NIJ intends to make 7 additional grants totaling more than $5 million to help additional states analyze backlogged DNA samples. NIJ will make awards to 21 states totaling $15 million under the program.
"We must do all we can to help our state and local partners employ 21st Century technology in their efforts to make communities safer," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "Increasing law enforcement's ability to use DNA evidence in the fight against crime makes sense and, ultimately, gets violent offenders off our streets."
Last year, the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence provided recommendations to the Attorney General on the current and future uses of DNA technology in the criminal justice system. Among those recommendations was one to help states analyze existing DNA samples that had been collected from convicted offenders but not yet analyzed and added to existing state systems and CODIS. At the time of the recommendation it was estimated that there were more than 750,000 unanalyzed samples in existence. Today's grant will help Alaska analyze more than 1,600 backlogged samples.
In addition, states will contribute DNA analysis of previously unanalyzed unsolved crimes to see if the samples of these cases matches the DNA profile of newly tested offenders to help solve old crimes. These and future analyzed samples will be added to CODIS.
"DNA is a very useful tool for investigators working on very difficult to solve cases," said NIJ Acting Director Julie Samuels. "In many cases, investigators are working hard to solve cases where a perpetrator has been apprehended for another crime and is already incarcerated. These grants will help link cases to convicted offenders and help investigators devote their energy to cases where the perpetrator is still at large and a threat to the community."
Additional information about NIJ can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij. Additional information about the Office of Justice Programs is available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/. The attached chart includes the amounts the states are receiving, the number of backlogged samples they will analyze and a local contact and phone number.
For more information contact: Doug Johnson at 202/307-0703
Local Contact: Chris Beheim 907/269-5743