ALEC Resolution on DNA Testing Standards Exposed
The Resolution on DNA Testing Standards was adopted by ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force at the Annual Meeting on August 7, 2010, approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on September 19, 2010. According to ALEC.org, the Resolution was re-approved by the Board of Directors on July 1, 2014. (Accessed on 10/20/2015).
CMD's Bill Summary
This Resolution supports the use of private labs in DNA analysis and forensic testing (as opposed to using public labs). Private labs have come under fire for mistakes or losing DNA, and many states have been moving towards testing DNA in-house as DNA banks are created for felons. Another argument for public labs is that their costs will come down as the technology continues to evolve, expanding the ability of law enforcement to use DNA testing without straining their budget. By outsourcing testing to private labs, the price of DNA testing may remain high and cannot be utilized in as many cases. The outsourcing requires taxpayers to subsidize CEO pay and profits that would not be required if the testing were conducted by publicly owned labs.
ALEC Resolution Text
A Resolution supporting the FBI effort to “re-evaluate existing policies, standards, and protocols, including requirements for outsourcing DNA analysis to private laboratories and review of their results by public law enforcement laboratories” that ensures continued quality in forensic science.
WHEREAS, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the nation’s largest individual membership organization of state legislators, dedicated to advancing the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty; and
WHEREAS, on March 23, 2010 the FBI announced that it is re-evaluating the “FBI Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories;” and
WHEREAS, the efficient use of DNA technology is paramount to helping law enforcement identify the guilty and to preserving and protecting victims' rights to justice and due process; and
WHEREAS, the DNA testing backlog is estimated to be 100,000 cases despite several hundred million of taxpayer dollars invested through the Debbie Smith Act to eliminate it, with an additional hundreds of thousands of rape cases in police storage that have not even been submitted to the crime lab for testing; and
WHEREAS, private labs must meet the exact same accreditation as public labs (including accreditation site visits) and quality assurance standards (including two reviews of all results) but FBI guidelines require that public labs must conduct their own site visit of private labs and must perform a third review of private lab data which is costly and consumes valuable resources; and
WHEREAS, there are numerous examples where this incremental burden placed on public labs results in law enforcement being denied the ability to use private labs when the public lab is capacity constrained because public labs do not have the resources to perform the additional required quality controls; and
WHEREAS, large private lab users such as the Los Angeles Police Department have testified that they do not find errors during these third technical reviews and there is a complete lack of empirical evidence comparing public lab and private lab error rates that would justify this requirement; and
WHEREAS, due to an incentive to remain competitive in the market, private labs perform testing at as little as half the cost of public labs and are constantly seeking new technology and more efficient practices; and
WHEREAS, private laboratories are an underutilized cost-effective resource and creating guidelines that facilitate public-private partnerships is an inexpensive mechanism to ease the backlog that will help law enforcement do their job, bring justice to victims, and protect taxpayer dollars;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that ALEC supports the current FBI effort, as stated in their March 23 press release, to “re-evaluate existing policies, standards, and protocols, including requirements for outsourcing DNA analysis to private laboratories and review of their results by public law enforcement laboratories”
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ALEC supports revised policies that ensure continued quality in forensic science while holding public and private lab DNA analysis to the same standards, auditing, and review process.
Adopted by the Public Safety and Elections Task Force at the Annual Meeting, August 7, 2010.
Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors, September 19, 2010.