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Rhode Island BJA FY 23 DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction Program

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $650,000)

The Rhode Island Department of Health Forensic Sciences Laboratory (RIDOH-FSL) serves the entire state of Rhode Island, with a population of approximately 1.06 million. Agencies served include state and municipal police, the Office of the State Medical Examiner, Attorney General, and other law enforcement agencies. The laboratory is divided into four sections: Drug Chemistry, Forensic Toxicology, Breath Analysis, and Forensic Biology/CODIS. The Laboratory is the sole Forensic DNA laboratory, NDIS participant, CODIS site in the state, and casework is submitted by more than 40 stakeholders. Database collections are carried out by RIDOH-FSL staff at the RI Adult Corrections Institution, and a separate probation collection office. Violent crime arrestee samples are collected by law enforcement personnel. The Laboratory is accredited to ISO 17025:2017 standards by ANSI National Accreditation Board LLC, and undergoes external audits every two years as required by the FBI’s DNA Quality Assurance Standards.


The federal funding from this award will help achieve the following three goals. Reducing the forensic DNA case backlog by funding two full time Senior Forensic Scientists at 100% to process DNA casework, and additional overtime for all qualified DNA analysts. Increasing capacity of the laboratory will be accomplished with the purchase of an ABI 3500xl capillary electrophoresis instrument to replace obsolete ABI 3130/3130xl.  Continuing education and training opportunities will also be provided through this funding to comply with QAS standards.


The RIDOH-FSL expects to reduce the DNA casework backlog by at least 125 cases, and to be able to process incoming cases within an average 90-day time frame for non-violent crimes and 30 days for violent crimes, assuming no changes in staff or workload. We believe that making the long-term investment in personnel will increase the overall efficiency of our laboratory, thereby reducing the backlog of DNA casework.

Date Created: September 8, 2023