Task Force to Come Up With Crime Lab Plan

The evidence processing backlog can be as much as three years.

Federal auditors recently raised some concerns about procedures at the state crime lab, and Gov. Dannel Malloy has developed a panel to come up with a plan for the lab.

“In recent years, the lab has struggled to keep up with a dramatic increase in its workload and reductions in its professional staff,” Malloy said in a written statement.

The workload has increased by 25 percent since 2005, while the volume of DNA evidence testing has increased by 400 percent, but there are 10 percent fewer scientists at the lab, Malloy said.

“The resulting backlog in evidence processing, in some cases lasting up to three years, is not acceptable. Last year, Connecticut’s backlog ranked worst in the nation. This undermines our entire criminal justice system and is not tolerable,” Malloy said.

Among the immediate moves Malloy said he is making is to ask his staff and budget office to “take all necessary steps to address the staffing and resource issues that have been allowed to fester all too long.”

He said several of the concerns have been addressed and he’s confident that concerns about DNA testing protocols have been resolved or will be soon, and has called on members of his administration to come up with a strategy, led by Mike Lawlor, Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning.

“I want our crime lab to once again be the model for other states to emulate. This can be done, even in difficult fiscal times. There are many efficiencies which can be achieved,” Malloy said.

Among the ideas he suggested is for police, prosecutors and judges to reach consensus on how to prioritize requests for testing and for local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to possibly share the cost of evidence testing.

He also suggested that state universities provide training for interns and graduates who will conduct this type of work professionally.

Malloy wants the recommendations in time to give them to the state General Assembly when it convenes in February 2012.

The team to develop the strategy includes:

Kevin Kane, Chief State’s Attorney
Reuben Bradford, Commissioner, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
Maj. William R. Podgorski, Connecticut State Police
Karen Goodrow, Director, Connecticut Innocence Project
Tim Palmbach PhD., Chairman, Department of Forensic Sciences, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven and former Director of Connecticut Forensic Science Law and Commanding Officer for Scientific Services, Connecticut State Police
Daryl Roberts, Chief, Hartford Police Department
Honorable Robert J. Devlin, Jr., Chief Administrative Judge, Criminal Division of the Superior Court
Nora Dannehy, Deputy Attorney General
Monique M. Ferraro, Principal, Technology Forensics, LLC
Michael Wolf, Former Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Linda Strausbaugh, PhD., Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut
Alex V. Hernandez, Criminal Defense Attorney and former Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney and Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan
Mike Lawlor, Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, Office of Policy and Management
President Pro Tempore’s selection: Senator Eric Coleman, Co-Chair, Judiciary Committee
House Speaker’s selection: Representative Gerald Fox, III, Co-Chair, Judiciary Committee
Senate Minority Leader’s selection: Senator Michael McLachlan
House Minority Leader’s selection: Representative Themis Klarides, Deputy Minority Leader

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