In Austin, the fallout continues from the Austin PD crime lab’s DNA lab, which was shuttered this summer after a damning state audit found that analysts were using outdated techniques. The closure has meant that people are sitting in jail longer as cases are delayed awaiting test results. At least one sexual assault case has been dismissed. According to the report, judges say the delays have reached a “critical point.” Thousands of past convictions will be reviewed. The city will outsource its DNA work to another lab in Dallas in a six-year $3.6 million deal.
Meanwhile, in a national first, the Houston Forensic Science Center has just announced that it has expanded its blind testing program to two new disciplines, biology and latent prints. Established in 2014, the lab is the new, independent organization that replaced the scandal-ridden HPD Crime Lab. Remarkably, it is the only forensic lab in the U.S. that conducts blind testing as a quality assurance measure. The Houston lab rolled out its blind testing program in 2015 beginning in toxicology, followed by controlled substances and firearms.