$2.1M in grants awarded to reduce DNA, forensic backlogs in Mississippi

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Thursday, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) announced the award of more than $2.1 million in grants to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS) and City of Jackson to address backlogs in DNA and forensic analyses.

According to Hyde-Smith, the DPS will receive two grants from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance—$670,367 from the Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program and $264,698 from the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program. The City of Jackson was awarded $1,179,593 through the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI).

“The Justice Department grants support the work of state and publicly-funded crime labs to analyze DNA and forensic evidence.  It is critical to public safety and our justice system to reduce backlogs and solve crimes, including sexual assaults and other violent offenses,” Hyde-Smith said.

The CEBR Program funding will support, among other things, DPS efforts to conduct DNA analyses of database samples, including forensic case samples, for inclusion in the Combined DNA Index System.  The formula Coverdell grant funding supports improved forensic science and medical examiner/coroner services.

The SAKI grant will give the City of Jackson added resources to address sexual assault kits that have not been submitted to a forensic laboratory for testing with Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)-eligible DNA methodologies. It will also work to support a comprehensive approach to solving sexual assault crimes.

On Thursday, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) also announced the U. S. Department of Justice has awarded $935,065 in funds to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

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