* Brendan Denison…
In March 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported there was a backlog of 5,000 DNA tests throughout the state — including 658 homicides unsolved after one year. [The Illinois State Police] indicated at the time that measurable improvements in DNA testing may not be seen for up to two years.
Now, in 2021, the progress is tangible. According to data provided by ISP Sgt. Joey Watson, 8,766 DNA assignments were still pending in June 2019. That number decreased to 6,093 by June 2020. This past June, it was 3,670 — that’s less than half of what it was two years ago.
As of June, the average turnaround time for DNA tests done by ISP was 84 days.
Labs across Illinois are tasked with a tall order: 16,465 DNA assignments were received from June 2020 to June 2021. That was 2,122 more assignments from the year before. […]
Watson said cases submitted to ISP are triaged to find items for analysis that will provide the strongest evidence for an investigation.
This has been a problem for years, but got even worse under the previous governor. And, like with most things, you just can’t snap your fingers and make it all better at once. But in 2018, according to the Tribune, the “average time to process DNA evidence for all cases, including sexual assaults,” was 285 days. So, the reduction to 84 days as of June has been immense.
As the article explains, part of the problem is that more DNA requests have been received for more types of crimes - jumping 15 percent in just the last year. It’s been a national issue, too.
But, make no mistake, this is still not ideal.