Monday, July 26, 2010

Crime Lab Woes

Are you, like me, a fan of the CSI television shows? Each week, the C.S.I. teams of crime lab scientists and criminal investigators manage somehow to solve intricate crime mysteries.
But have you ever toured a real crime laboratory? As a former federal prosecutor, I was allowed to tour the F.B.I. Crime Laboratory, in Washington, D.C., along with most of the G.B.I.'s crime laboratories here in the State of Georgia. While their work may not always be as dramatic as depicted on the C.S.I. shows, the real crime lab scientists generally do amazing work, too!
But sadly, sometimes it seems that the state crime labs are treated like red headed step children of the criminal justice system by many state legislatures. For example, here, in Georgia, we have recently experienced the closings of several of our state crime lab branch offices. Also, I have just read that, in San Francisco, two recently purchased DNA machines sit idle because the crime lab there cannot afford to purchase the software, (and presumably, afford to pay the personnel), to run them.
There's no telling how many inmates are still sitting in jail simply because DNA tests, which could clear them, are not being done. And there's no telling how many rapists are still "out there" committing additional crimes for the same reason, i.e. because the DNA tests are not being done, due to funding problems. This is outrageous! Don't you agree?
Here's hoping that our crime laboratories will one day get the appropriate funding and appreciation for all the good work that they do! That's the real C.S.I. mystery that needs to be solved!

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