Out of cash and understaffed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has suspended its faltering effort to analyze DNA evidence from thousands of rape and sexual assault cases.The unsteady stream of California state funding seems about to run dry.
The department halted shipments of the genetic evidence to private crime laboratories at the end of May after funds allotted for the testing ran dry, according to a report submitted by Sheriff Lee Baca to the county Board of Supervisors late last week.
Sheriff's Department officials said they expected to receive federal grant money next month, and more funds in the fall, that would allow them to continue testing for four or five months. After that, however, the department will have to rely on an uncertain stream of state funding, officials said.
A state legislative budget committee recently recommended that funding for the California Department of Justice lab be slashed by $20 million next fiscal year -- a move that, if approved by lawmakers, would force the lab to stop providing free DNA testing to 47 of the state's 53 county governments.If this amount of funding is cut for DNA testing there is no excuse for lawmakers to not immediately remove the statute of limitations for rape with no conditions related to DNA evidence.
Delays may be unavoidable due to tight budgets and the priorities of those in control of those budgets, but they don't have to guarantee permanent injustices.
Too often when budgets are tight is when people cut funding for efforts which don't truly matter to them because they can do so while blaming the budget not their own priorities.