Marshall University’s Forensic DNA Analysis Lab Receives Criminal Justice Agency Designation
May 20, 2016|
By Mary Thomasson
Marshall University is one of the few educational institutions in the nation with an accredited forensic DNA analysis laboratory and criminal justice agency designation.
West Virginia Senate Bill 104, signed into law by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in March, provided the Marshall University Forensic Science Center’s (MUFSC) Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratory with official status as a criminal justice agency. This designation will allow the Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratory to build upon existing capabilities and infrastructure to provide DNA testing services to West Virginia and other states and foster economic development.
As a criminal justice agency, the MUFSC is now eligible to apply for more federal grants that may generate additional funds. Being named an official criminal justice agency also expands opportunities for Marshall to develop partnerships with state and local forensic crime laboratories around the country to provide testing services to reduce criminal case backlogs, making these communities safer by helping identify perpetrators.
The designation formally recognizes criminal casework services the Forensic DNA Analysis Lab has provided since 2006, including analysis of untested sexual assault kits, property crimes, convicted offender sample databasing, relationship testing and human identification services for medical examiners. Technical review services of data are offered to crime labs to help expedite data uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). At Marshall, West Virginia’s Convicted Offender DNA Database Testing Laboratory, DNA profiles are generated by the Forensic DNA Analysis Lab and submitted to the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory for review and upload into CODIS.
MUFSC’s prior projects include testing sexual assault kits and property crimes evidence. The National Institute of Justice supported the projects and facilitated partnerships as part of a national effort to address the critical needs of the nation’s crime labs. Marshall’s Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratory has tested more than 2,500 sexual assault kits from West Virginia, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Detroit. The lab has also tested more than 2,000 DNA samples from property crime evidence submitted by police departments in Huntington, WV; Miami, FL and Charleston, SC. Currently, the center is part of a project that is underway to address additional untested sexual assault kits in the Mountain State.
Marshall was one of the first universities in the nation to have a CODIS laboratory and continues to be one of the few today.
For more information, visit http://forensics.marshall.edu.
About the Author
Mary Thomasson is the public information officer and National Institute of Justice (NIJ) liaison for the Marshall University Forensic Science Center in Huntington, WV. The NIJ is a federal agency that administers funding for projects, including research, development, evaluation, testing and training in support of criminal justice. Additionally, she has worked on economic development projects for MUFSC. A native of Huntington, she has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Marshall University with a minor in marketing. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.