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FFY21 DNA Backlog Reduction at Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $558,791)

The Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (AKSCDL), a division of the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS), is solely responsible for analyzing evidentiary material associated with criminal investigations statewide. All forensic biology/DNA work will be performed in a laboratory in Anchorage. Pursuant to AS44.41.035, the DPS-AKSCDL is also the agency responsible for conducting analysis on DNA samples collected from convicted felony and misdemeanor offenders as well as certain felony misdemeanor arrestees in the state of Alaska; the AKSCDL is responsible for storing and maintaining the resultant profiles in the State DNA Index System.  

On average, approximately one-fourth of the casework requests submitted to the laboratory include a request for DNA analysis. Overall, the number of requests submitted to the laboratory is on the rise, fueled by recently enacted “test all” Sexual Assault Kit legislation.

As the only forensic laboratory providing DNA analysis in the State of Alaska, the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (AKSCDL) is occasionally the rate limiting step in the criminal justice system for prosecuting these cases. With the high volume of sexual assaults, and the complex nature of the analysis, the forensic biology unit is significantly more expensive to operate than other laboratory disciplines. The Federal funding from this award will help to alleviate this burden by providing supplies for processing these cases. Additionally, funding will assist the laboratory in maintaining some of its current capabilities, meeting quality assurance requirements for accredited laboratories, and validating and implementing a new DNA data interpretation tool for mixture interpretation.

This award will be specifically used for the following goals:

1.    Reduce the backlog of cases pending DNA analysis.
2.    Maintain the current capabilities of the Forensic Biology discipline.
3.    Increase the capacity of the laboratory to process forensic DNA casework 

With the supply funds requested under this award, the AKSCDL commits to the analysis of at least 304 forensic biology cases (at ~$1,000 per case) and 814 DNA database samples (at ~$100 per sample). The laboratory expects to be able to process significantly more cases and database samples than the required minimum. The lab will also continue to work towards achieving a turnaround of less than 60 days for Forensic Biology analysis. The turnaround time for database analysis will continue to meet the statutory requirement of 90 days.

Date Created: December 9, 2021