Officials say the new state crime lab in Ankeny faces a daunting new job — taking DNA samples from every criminal in the state. Laboratory Administrator Jerry Brown says even with the expanded new facility, samples are already getting backlogged because of a new law requiring a genetic record be made on every offender. Brown says they did D-N-A testing before in the old — and much smaller — facility, but only for a small number of crimes. “Now it encompasses all the crimes of anybody that’s convicted within the state,” Brown says. He says the change was included in a bill signed by the governor last month that aimed to crackdown on sex offenders. “Now it encompasses all the crimes of anybody that’s convicted within the state,” says Brown. At first, they expect to have as many as 20,000 cases a year, as they sample everyone in every prison and jail.
Eventually, the rate’s expected to settle down to 8,000 a year as they sample the D-N-A of just the new offenders going into the system. Brown says the lab still depends on collection of D-N-A at crime scenes, accidents and other locations by local law-enforcement officers and investigators. He says there’s always going to be that manual labor — “finding the D-N-A, finding the samples, cutting them out, preparing them, that’s never going to change.” Brown predicts it will take the staff three years to deal with recording DNA samples from every person in the state’s criminal justice system.