Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $656,946)
The Mississippi Forensics Laboratory System, an ASCLD/LAB, ISO 17025 accredited system, consists of a central full-service laboratory in Pearl and three regional labs located in Batesville, Meridian, and the Gulf Coast.
The mission of the laboratory is to provide a full range of forensic services to law enforcement agencies in the state by performing testing activities that meet the stringent requirements of the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025 and satisfy the needs of the customer.
The Mississippi Forensics Laboratory (MSFL) faces the challenge of providing essential forensic services to the criminal justice system of the state in a time of stagnant budgets and increasing crime. At the present time, all DNA analyses are performed in the Pearl Laboratory. The regional laboratories receive evidence from agencies in their region and provide courier service to the main lab for evidence requiring examinations not available at the branch laboratory. Conventional serological examinations have been added to the services provided by the three regional laboratories, the Meridian, Batesville and Gulf Coast laboratories. Currently, DNA database samples are outsourced using Federal funding for DNA convicted offender database sample testing, DNA arrestee database sample testing and to purchase collection kits for Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Currently, DNA convicted offender and arrestee database samples are outsourced to an accredited laboratory using Federal funding. The central laboratory has a new facility with adequate space to provide the DNA unit the ability to expand services to include database sample testing. Toward this goal, automated equipment has been purchased and validated.
Currently, more staff is needed to expand to in-house database processing. MSFL receives approximately 700 convicted offender and arrestee samples per month to process, review, and enter into CODIS. This volume of work requires all the resources available to the CODIS unit and outsourcing remains the most efficient mechanism to provide timely database analysis.
Three additional technical staff members were hired in late 2017 that included one experienced forensic scientist who was able to quickly make a positive contribution. After the completion of training for the other staff, improvement is expected. The primary objective is to increase efficiency of sexual assault kit processing and improve capacity thereby reducing the turnaround time and backlog of unworked cases.