The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation crime lab is already back-logged by thousands of cases, and the problem will likely get worse because of a new law.
Last year, the crime lab handled about 21,000 cases and DNA tests. It currently faces a backlog of just under 3,000 cases. But a new law that goes into effect in July will double the lab’s DNA tests. It requires DNA samples to be collected, not just from convicted felons, but for some misdemeanor crimes too.
“Now it’s going to be anybody convicted of a felony and people convicted of certain aggravated misdemeanors as well as sex offenders,” says DNA Technical Leader Mike Halverson. “So that will almost double the amount of samples we see coming in.”
The lab is being revamped to make it more efficient. But technicians say with the new DNA requirements, more staff would really help.
“Our current load of new cases is staggering and quite a lot of work,” Halverson adds.
The lab also handles cold cases. Last week, officials announced, DNA tested at the lab identified the killer in a 30-year old triple homicide.