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Turnaround times at state crime lab better but still long

According to some law enforcement officials, the turnaround time for processing evidence at the North Carolina state crime labs is too long. This is even though the lab has managed to cut the turnaround time to 316 days on average for all evidence and some is even cut down to as few as 60 days. That means the turnaround time has dropped 150 days on average from what it was.

During the last fiscal year, the Greensboro, Asheville and Raleigh, North Carolina, labs have accepted almost 51,000 pieces of evidence for over 25,200 cases. The director, who took over in June 2014, said, "The state crime lab has been the scapegoat for too long. We're turning things around."

In 2009, an analyst with the crime lab testified in a hearing that eventually led to a review of the lab. That review found that blood evidence results were often falsely reported or misstated by analysts from 1987 to 2003.

A new Western Regional Crime Laboratory is scheduled to open in Edneyville in 2017. This new lab should help cut back on the workload at the Raleigh lab. In addition, 10 DNA analysts are being added to the Raleigh lab.

Some law enforcement agencies, though, don't believe they are going to see changes soon enough. As a result, there are several agencies in the Triad that are building a lab for DNA analysis. Another county is having a local hospital handle blood alcohol testing for DWI cases. This is due to the long backlog at the state crime lab -- sometimes as long as 24 months.

While there are some defense lawyers that are still skeptical of the objectivity of the analysts because the results of the analysis are only given to the prosecutors. The defense lawyers have to wait for the prosecutors to send over the results.

If you are charged with a crime and evidence from your case is going through the state crime lab, it's worth talking with your attorney to determine whether the results should be challenged.

Source: thetimesnews.com, "Troubled state crime lab says turnaround times have improved," Martha Waggoner, Associated Press, Nov. 21, 2015

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