Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,771,965)
Texas has a backlog of over 37,000 pieces of forensic evidence with a substantial majority of it related to alcohol/drug offenses. A systemic rise in arrest rates for these types of crimes has led to an increase in demand for drug/alcohol evidence testing, coupled with an increase in local submissions, an already overburdened statewide crime laboratory system has become increasingly exacerbated. The Governor's Public Safety Office (PSO) proposes to use its 2021 Coverdell funds to support accredited crime laboratories in reducing the backlog in processing non-DNA forensic evidence. Grant funds will enhance the ability of laboratories operated by state and local units of government to maintain the integrity of the evidence they examine as well as improve the timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services. Funds may be used to pay overtime to forensic scientists, contract for external processing of evidence, and to acquire new or replacement equipment that will improve operations of the laboratory and support a reduction in the backlog of forensic evidence. PSO anticipates the outcome will result in an improvement of the timeliness of non-DNA evidence processing in Texas.