D.C. Crime Lab Reopens; Starts DNA Testing on Limited Basis

The D.C. crime lab was suspended from completing DNA analyses last April amid concerns of integrity and independence of the lab. A national accreditation group found the analysts at the lab were, “not competent and were using inadequate procedures.” The lab was originally opened 4 years ago and was touted as a lab independent from prosectors or police departments. During the suspension, the D.C. crime lab’s cases were reviewed and different conclusions were drawn in 35% of the crime lab’s cases. Prosecutors have contacted the defendants in these cases but say none of the cases warrant concern about wrongful conviction.

The lab will continue to outsource more complicated DNA analyses. It will first resume testing sexual assault kits, then possibly samples from felony gun cases and homicides cases. The Washington Post reports: “the lab has slashed DNA testing turnaround times and paid for new training and equipment that will make it one of the first in the nation to employ new software — called STRmix — that untangles complex mixtures of DNA from multiple people at crime scenes.”

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