Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $325,591)
The opioid crisis is a public health emergency that is eroding the quality of life for Alabama residents. In 2016, Alabama led the Nation in the number of per capita prescriptions for opioids with over 5 million prescriptions issued – which is equivalent to 1.2 prescriptions for every man, woman, and child in Alabama. People are dying and families are being devastated. Alabama has experienced over 5,000 overdose deaths in the last decade alone, with significant increases year over year. Based on these alarming statistics, arguably no State has a greater need to address the opioid epidemic than Alabama.
As the sole provider of forensic testing services to over 450+ law enforcement agencies throughout Alabama, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) has also experienced a dramatic increase in the request for Forensic Toxicology testing services as a result of the opioid epidemic in this State. The Forensic Toxicology section of ADFS provides comprehensive testing in all death and human performance (DUI) cases that originate throughout Alabama. There remains a real and desperate need for the Toxicology section to enhance laboratory capacity and streamline the testing process associated with opioid cases, so the quality and timeliness of forensic services can be realized over current laboratory operations.
In preparation for the FY23 Paul Coverdell NFSIA-Formula Grant Program, ADFS conducted a comprehensive gap analysis of its laboratory operations, and plans to utilize Federal funds from this award to purchase and implement targeted scientific instrumentation for the Toxicology section to enhance overall laboratory capacity, improve the quality and timeliness of forensic casework, especially in opioid related casework, and position ADFS to better serve all 450+ law enforcement agencies throughout Alabama.