Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $313,933)
The Rhode Island Department of Health Forensic Sciences Laboratory (RIDOH-FSL) serves the entire state of Rhode Island, with a population of approximately 1 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 and 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 standards by ANSI/ASQ National Accreditation Board LLC, and undergoes external audits every two years as required by the FBIs DNA Quality Assurance Standards.
The federal funding from this award will help achieve the following goals: (a) Reduce the forensic DNA case backlog by funding 2 full time Forensic Scientists to process DNA casework; (b) Provide required continuing education for each DNA analyst through training and travel; and, (c) Increase the capacity of the laboratory in both casework and CODIS with the purchase of a higher throughput genetic analyzer and related software.
The RIDOH-FSL expects to reduce the DNA casework backlog by at least 150 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.