Blood samples from more than 13,000 felons sit uncatalogued in Virginia state laboratories because of funding cuts that prevent them from being entered into Virginia's DNA "fingerprinting" system, officials said.
The two-year-old state program, which officials said is the first of its kind in the United States, was introduced to help law-enforcement agencies catch criminal suspects through a statewide computer system. But the program has not been able to escape the budget knife.
The program was supposed to receive $700,000 from the General Assembly, but that allocation has been halved. Eight proposed jobs have been reduced to two, a state lab director said.
"It's been a logistical nightmare," said Paul Ferrara, director of the bureau of forensic science in Richmond. "It is, it was and it will be."
Ferrara said there is little money, no equipment, no lab technicians and no lab space for the project.
DNA fingerprinting uses unique genetic information to match suspects to crimes. It has become an especially effective tool in investigating sex crimes.
DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, is the basic genetic material found in each cell. Each person is believed to have a unique pattern, with the exception of identical twins.