Lincoln, Pryor, Berry, Snyder Announce $868K to Improve Forensic Analysis at State Crime Lab

Washington – U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and U.S. Representatives Marion Berry (AR-01) and Vic Snyder (AR-02) today announced that the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory will receive a total of $868,665 in U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) funds to hire new employees, provide training for forensic analysts and coroners, and purchase new equipment.

 The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory will use $655,503 under the Forensic DNA Backlog Reduction Program to hire three additional serologists, who will screen evidence for biological fluids. They will also hire two DNA analysts, who will examine DNA evidence to help Arkansas’s law enforcement agencies prosecute crimes. These additional employees will help the State Crime Laboratory reduce its backlog of unanalyzed DNA samples. Funds will also be used to purchase three new 3500 Series Genetic Analyzers to help scientists conduct DNA analysis.

 The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration will use $213,162 in Forensic Science Improvement funds to support continuing education programs for forensic scientists to help them maintain their certifications in their respective disciplines and remain fully informed of new methods and instruments for forensic analysis. In addition, the funds will be used to purchase three morgue refrigeration units and train and certify Arkansas’s 75 coroners so they are up-to-date on legal issues related to deaths in Arkansas.

 “This funding will speed up and enhance Arkansas’s justice system by allowing our State Crime Laboratory to hire additional employees and ensuring that forensic analysts have the equipment and training they need to work effectively,” Lincoln said. “Efficient processing of DNA and other forensic evidence is critical to solving crimes and reducing wrongful convictions. I will continue working to secure funds to help Arkansas’s law enforcement officers prosecute criminals and keep our communities safe.”

 “Enhancing the forensic capabilities at the crime lab will put criminals behind bars and keep them off the streets,” Pryor said.  “These funds will make a big difference for law enforcement throughout the state, and I’m pleased to see them being reinvested in ways that will undoubtedly strengthen our criminal justice system.”

 “Forensic evidence can often be the deciding factor in a criminal case, so it is important that we have skilled analysts working with local law enforcement agencies in prosecuting crimes,” Berry said. “Providing forensic scientists and state coroners with the equipment they need plays a big role in a successful prosecution process.”

 “The State Crime Lab in Arkansas provides key evidence that helps our state’s criminal justice system. Providing this facility with the most up-to-date technology and strengthening the forensic team with an adequate number of trained professionals will allow faster and better evidence analysis,” Snyder said. “I am pleased these funds are coming to Arkansas, and I applaud the local leaders for working to secure this funding.”

 “These grants will be utilized to improve the criminal justice services provided by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for the citizens of Arkansas. The State Crime Laboratory will use these funds to help facilitate analysis of casework, upgrade equipment and allow our staff and coroners throughout Arkansas to meet educational requirements,” said Kermit Channell, Executive Director of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. “Our laboratory in Arkansas remains and continues to strive to be a leader in the forensic science community.”