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Crime Lab Surpasses Previous All-Time Yearly Record of 365 Hits
MADISON - The Wisconsin State Crime Lab has set a new record when it comes to the fight against crime. Attorney General Van Hollen announced today that as of the end of September the Wisconsin State Crime Lab had 441 DNA Databank hits (matches) for the year with three months to go. The previous yearly record for the number of DNA hits was set in 2007 when the State Crime Labs recorded 365 hits.
A DNA Databank hit occurs when the results of a DNA Databank search allows the Crime Lab to provide an "investigative lead" to law enforcement in an unsolved case. If the search links an evidence profile to the profile of a convicted offender, it is called an offender hit. This type of hit often supplies the law enforcement agency with the name of a "prime suspect" in their case. If the search links an evidence profile to another evidence profile, it is called a forensic (or case-to-case) hit. This type of hit lets a law enforcement agency (or agencies) know they are looking for the same individual, such as in the case of a serial rapist.
"Increases in DNA Databank hits occur because we are continually increasing the number of convicted offender profiles that are being added and greatly increasing the number of casework profiles that are being added to the Databank," said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "This is a direct result of the improved efficiencies that we have made in the Crime Labs and the work of new DNA analysts that we have been able to hire."
As of July 2008, the national DNA Index System (NDIS) had 6,366,379 searchable DNA profiles. The Wisconsin DNA Databank currently has DNA profiles on over 114,000 convicted offenders. In addition, there are over five thousand casework profiles (5,497) in the Forensic Index of the Wisconsin DNA Databank.
The types and numbers of cases that have been aided by the Wisconsin State Crime Lab Databank hits include:
479 sexual assaults 148 homicides (and attempted homicides) 890 burglaries/thefts 369 "other cases" (arson, armed robberies, death investigations, criminal trespass, operating a motor vehicle without consent, controlled substances, etc.)
Information gathered in the Wisconsin DNA Databank hits is also used to help track down criminals that may have offended in other states. To date, there have been a total of 312 National level convicted offender databank hits. In 168 of these hits a Wisconsin convicted offender was linked to a crime in another state.
The Wisconsin State Crime Labs are part of the Wisconsin Department of Justice and are located in Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau with DNA analysis work done at the Madison and Milwaukee labs. In the first eighteen months of Van Hollen's term, before all of the new analysts were trained to take on regular case assignments, the crime labs more than doubled the average number of cases worked per month as compared with 2006.
In the three months since the new analysts have taken on full case loads, monthly productivity has more than quadrupled as compared with 2006. In the first 10 months of 2008, the State Crime Lab will have worked as many DNA cases as were worked from 2004-2006.
"Even while case submissions continue to increase as they should given that DNA analysis is a powerful science to identify offenders and exonerate innocent suspects the Wisconsin Department of Justice continues to reduce the backlog," said Van Hollen.
As of the end of September, there were 43% fewer cases pending than when Van Hollen took office. "We continue to be ahead of pace towards my goal of eliminating the backlog by December 2010," said Van Hollen.