Houston Can’t Afford To Process DNA in Non-violent Crimes
Chief Harold Hurtt says he cannot get funding to start processing DNA for non-violent crimes such as burglaries, auto thefts and drug crimes. The city’s crime lab is already understaffed and underfunded, meaning even DNA tests for violent crimes such as rapes go untested until necessary. “I’m so frustrated with this whole process,” Hurtt said Friday. “We find a problem, we find a solution, and … everybody says, ‘This is important. We have to do it.’ However, it doesn’t seem to be a priority. And we’re not going to be able to do this for free.”
To upgrade the lab for processing DNA evidence for all types of crimes, the Houston lab would require $8 million in improvements. As things stand, the lab is already short nine employees, specifically four criminologists and lab technicians that specialize in DNA. The lab is currently working to process 1,000 DNA samples and has a backlog of 3,800 rape kits.
Even Houston criminal attorney‘s are frustrated at this lack of funding, as DNA evidence often helps clear innocent suspects.