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Home > For The Professional > Page Title
FOR THE PROFESSIONAL

 

   It's Not CSI Out There!

American Crime Labs Need 

            Your Help!


The CSI shows are exciting, entertaining dramas and have done a lot to make the public aware of the potential of forensic science. That's terrific.

But let's talk reality, not television: in truth, most American crime labs are under-funded, operating in aging facilities without the latest equipment, and are vastly under-staffed. More than one out of four labs do not have basic computers for processing and tracking evidence.



 www.CrimeLabProject.com

 What is Crime Lab Project?

 How can I help?

 Paul Coverdell National     Forensic Sciences Act of 2000

                   ACT NOW!

What is the Crime Lab Project? 

        We are a group of writers, producers, and concerned members of the public who are working together to obtain better funding for forensic science labs. The Crime Lab Project does not collect dues or donations. We ask those who want to be a part of the project to sign up for our mailing list (Jan Burke's site), and take action on behalf of crime labs. Anyone who is willing to do so may become a member of the Crime Lab Project.

What does the Crime Lab Project do?

  • Works to increase awareness of the problems facing America's severely under-funded crime labs.
  • Increases awareness of the costs and dangers that under-supported labs create for law enforcement, the judicial process, and national security; as well as the toll on crime victims and their families.
  • Takes action to ensure that crime labs are adequately funded.

How is the Crime Lab Project doing this?

  • By urging local, state, and federal representatives to provide better funding for crime labs-for all aspects of the scientific examination of evidence: DNA, fingerprints, trace evidence, firearms examination, tool mark evidence, toxicology, pathology, and other areas which are essential to the important work accomplished by these labs.
  • By bringing public attention to the needs of crime labs through our Web sites, mailing lists, and speaking engagements.
  • By providing news and info about the current state of forensic science labs.

        We continue to work to convince Congress to FUND the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act of 2000. Congress has created a bank account for forensic science labs, but so far, has deposited only a fraction of the authorized funds!

        The need for funding is urgent. Recently, our efforts have helped labs obtain Coverdell funds for the first time since the law was enacted. We need your support to ensure final approval, and to obtain additional funding for Coverdell. We are pleased that DNA funding has been approved in separate bills, but our legislators need to hear a clear message from us: DNA isn't the only area that needs funding --
Coverdell deserves their support!

What is the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act?

Click Here to find out!


What else is new about the Crime Lab Project?

        In addition to the occasional newsletters we send through our mailing list (Jan Burke's site), we have established an e-mail list-- CLPNews@yahoogroups.com -- for receiving news about crime labs and forensic science. These free digests are sent out twice weekly. Sign up to receive them through the Yahoo Groups Web page, or send a blank e-mail to CLPNews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com (Jan Burke's site).


The Crime Lab Project Asks You to Act Now to Help Crime Labs!

PLEASE CALL OR E-MAIL* YOUR TWO U.S. SENATORS AND YOUR MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. ASK THEM TO CONTINUE TO FUND THE COVERDELL NATIONAL FORENSIC SCIENCES ACT OF 2000.


WHAT IS THE COVERDELL ACT?

        The Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act was passed, unanimously, by both the House and Senate in the year 2000, and signed into law. Of the $135 million authorized, only $15 million has been appropriated. That means only 11% of the funds have been given to crime labs.

Here are the facts from the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations* Request:

        Support full funding for the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act of 2000 at the authorized level of $135 million.

Why Support the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act of 2000?

        It is the only mechanism which ensures that much needed money is provided to all state and local laboratories, which analyze over 90% of all forensic cases in the United States.

        Only the Coverdell Act allows funding to go to where most desperately needed.

The current funding mechanisms are earmarked so heavily that many states do not receive funds, and thus are shutting down labs and ME's offices.

DNA analysis and DNA backlog reduction funds support only 5% of labs' work.


Justification:

        The American Society of Crime Laboratories conducted a survey in 2003 of state and local forensic laboratories, which pointed out some of the critical needs of our nation's forensic community:

*9000 more forensic scientists are needed

*$1.3 billion needed for facility modernization and construction

*26% of forensic laboratories are without basic computer systems to track evidence

*$285 million needed by laboratories for equipment.

        The CFSO's highly respected member organizations include the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the International Association for Identification, the National Association of Medical Examiners, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors - Laboratory Accreditation Board, and Forensic Quality Services (the latter two offer laboratory accreditation programs for crime labs).


HOW TO HELP YOUR STATE AND LOCAL CRIME LABS


Your three phone calls or e-mails can make a difference!

        E-mail or call your three Congressional representatives to tell them that it is important
to you that Coverdell receives more funding. (Because of anti-anthrax measures, letters are delayed and do not always reach Congress.) If you don't know who your representatives are, you can find their offices listed in the government section of your phone book, or visit www.house.gov for the House of Representatives and www.senate.gov for your two Senators.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO CALL OR E-MAILYOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVE!

        They work for you, they're spending your taxes - let them know that crime labs are important to you!

Here's a sample letter for e-mailing or to help with a call:

Dear [Title -- "Senator" or if a representative, "Mr." "Mrs." or "Ms."] [Last Name of the Member of Congress]

Please support funding of the
Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act of 2000
at the fully authorized level of $135 million.

Continued funding of the Coverdell Act is urgently needed by crime labs. These labs handle 90% of all criminal cases in the United States. Funding Coverdell will make a critical difference in forensic sciences in the U.S.

The current focus is on DNA backlog funding. DNA processing represents only 5% of the work done by labs. While DNA funding is important, Coverdell funding is needed to meet the overall needs of labs - including the processing of DNA.

The Department of Justice has found that public crime labs ended 2002 with over 500,000 backlogged cases in all areas of evidence examination. A survey of labs, by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, revealed that labs were severely understaffed, operating in outdated or inadequate facilities, and that more than one out of four labs are without basic computer systems for tracking evidence. Even worse, many medical examiners' offices are closing due to lack of funds.

Because of this, victims and their families wait months or years for lab results, cases are lost or never brought to trial, evidence is mishandled, and criminals remain at large. These problems ultimately affect the welfare and safety of the entire country, including homeland security.

Funding of the Coverdell Act should be a high priority. I expect that you will join me in the effort to make it so.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Address
City, State, ZIP



Note that it is not enough to only put your name and e-mail address on the message -- the member of Congress will respond better to a message with a complete address, especially if you live in his or her district or state.

Please let us know whom you contacted and when by sending an e-mail to crime@crimelabproject.com, so that we can follow up with your representatives.

VISIT WWW.CRIMELABPROJECT.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION. Jan Burke, Founder. 


  

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