Special to the Daily News
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, along with U.S. Sen.s Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin (all D-W.Va.), Thursday announced that West Virginia would receive more than $947,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to enhance forensic science and criminal evidence processing capabilities, support juvenile justice system improvements, and state and local delinquency prevention and intervention efforts.
The West Virginia State Police will receive $363,585 from the FY 12 DNA Backlog Reduction Program to build capacity of their laboratory and reduce the number of DNA forensic casework backlogs to help the statewide criminal justice system use the full potential of DNA technology. The funding will increase the capacity of the existing State Police DNA crime laboratory and enhance capabilities to more efficiently and cost-effectively analyze more DNA samples with reduced turnaround time.
The West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services will receive $320,000 from the FY 2012 Title II Formula Grants Program, which is authorized under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The funding will be used to support delinquency prevention and intervention programs, in addition to improving the state’s juvenile justice system.
The West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services will receive $200,000 from the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP). The funds will be sub-granted to the West Virginia State Police to implement a new criminal history system to improve access, quality and completeness of criminal background histories.
The West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services will receive $63,517 from the FY 2012 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program. This program strives to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services. The funding will also help eliminate backlogs in the analysis of forensic evidence, including controlled substances, firearms examination, forensic pathology, latent prints and trace evidence.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Federal investments to help speed criminal investigations by our law enforcement professionals helps to lower crime and improve conviction rates to raise the quality of life for all West Virginians,” said Rahall. “While tightening our budgetary belt, we must continue the critical investments in public safety, which bring long-term benefits to our residents, businesses, and communities. Safe and secure communities are the critical foundation and vital to our future for growing our economy and creating jobs.”
“These important grants will help make sure our state’s law enforcement can work efficiently and effectively to identify criminals and make our communities safer. Our public safety officials work hard every day to protect West Virginians, and this funding will help them do their jobs,” said Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “The forensics grants are crucial, particularly since West Virginia has been a leader in working with forensics, including DNA analysis, with groundbreaking programs at many of our universities and at federal facilities in Clarksburg. As more forensics facilities grow and expand throughout the country, it is absolutely critical that we make sure their tests are not based on flawed evidence. That’s why I introduced a bill this year to make sure that any forensic evidence is accurate so that we avoid wrongful convictions.”
“When I was Governor, we worked hard to invest in our State Police to make sure they had the resources and tools to protect our citizens,” Manchin said. “I’m pleased to announce that this grant will help enhance our crime-fighting efforts and get violent criminals off the streets. This is a commonsense investment and partnership between the state and federal government to improve the quality of life for all our citizens.”