Budget Cuts in South Carolina Create a Backlog of 4,500 Cases
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Thursday, September 01, 2011

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in Columbia has a backlog of about 4,500 cases in its forensics lab because the agency has lost 30 people to state budget cuts over the last three years. SLED's budget in 2008 was about $36 million a year.  This year it's 23.5 million.  In 2008, SLED had about 400 agents statewide. Today, it has about 240. The lab can complete about 200 cases a month, but this year has received an average of 348 cases a month. Most of the backlog is in the DNA lab.
SLED Chief Mark Keel says the agency prioritizes cases, so the evidence from murders, rapes and other violent crimes is processed first. That means most of the backlog is from property crimes, and many of those are cases have no biological evidence, only objects that the criminals might have touched, leaving behind what's called "Touch DNA".
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