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Illinois State Police Answer Questions On DNA Processing Backlog

via Creative Commons

Hundreds of Chicago murder cases from as far back as 2014 have DNA evidence from the crime scene: it just hasn’t been processed yet by Illinois’ Forensic Science Lab. State senators met in Chicago on Monday to find out why.

An investigative report from a Chicago TV station revealed about 750 DNA samples had been sent to the state crime lab, but were never touched. That’s led to delays in solving murder cases from as far back as 2014.

Carmia Tang of Chicago is with The Sisterhood, a gun violence advocacy group. She told the Senate Public Health committee about her son Jeremy, who was murdered in September 2017. More than a year later, the DNA in his case is still sitting in a crime lab.

“Just to know that my child wasn’t even worth processing his DNA is an insult to me as a taxpayer,” she fumed.

Representatives from the Illinois State Police, which runs the crime lab, say staff shortages and changes in how DNA samples from sexual assault cases are processed is to blame. They say Illinois’ nearly three year budget impasse also played a small role; a few private vendors that help process DNA samples no longer do business with the state. Still, gun violence advocacy groups have called that answer “unacceptable."

Democratic State senator Patricia Van Pelt of Chicago says the state police may need to change how they process DNA in the first place.

"The last thing we want is murderers walking around on our street, feeling really happy about killing people and getting away with it.”

According to a State Police report, DNA from nearly 13,000 criminal cases in total has yet to be processed.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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