June 11th, 2009
Budget cuts stemming from state spending crunches caused by the economic downturn are placing crime labs at risk in Wisconsin and North Carolina and negatively impacting resources available to the nation’s law enforcement community. In Wisconsin, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is spearheading lobbying efforts to restore $5.4 million in budget cuts to the justice department that are scheduled to take effect between 2009 and 2011. The Chicago Tribune reports that, “Van Hollen said those cuts … could result in evidence backlogs at the state crime labs, agency attorneys turning down cases and delays in responding to local police’s requests for help.” Similarly, cuts in North Carolina have placed a Greensboro crime lab on the chopping block, threatening to cut off a valuable scientific resource to law enforcement officials in up to 12 counties. These budget reductions place an added burden on the police community that increases the potential for backlogs and errors that could delay the justice system and increase the probability of improper convictions.