Hoeven: North Dakota Attorney General Receives $200K DOJ Grant to Address Forensic DNA Backlogs

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has awarded $200,000 to the North Dakota Office of the Attorney General (AG) ensure address any backlog of DNA sample analysis states may have. While the North Dakota Crime Laboratory has no backlog, the funds are made available through the DOJ’s DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program to support improvements at state and local crime laboratories to address existing DNA backlogs, prevent future backlogs and help the criminal justice system use the full potential of DNA technology.

Hoeven previously announced $63,000 in DOJ funds for the AG to improve the quality of forensic science and medical examiner services, improve the timeliness of forensic evidence analysis and help eliminate backlogs.

“North Dakota is enjoying a time of unprecedented prosperity and growth, and in order to sustain that growth and maintain our high quality of life, we need to meet the challenges that come with a growing population,” Hoeven said. “Our law enforcement officials are working hard to do just that by protecting our people, keeping our communities safe and delivering justice for victims of crime. These funds will be used to prevent any future backlog of DNA evidence at our state crime lab, helping to resolve pending cases and increasing capacity for the future.”

Earlier this month, Senator Hoeven led a roundtable with western North Dakota law enforcement officials and North Dakota AG Wayne Stenehjem to address the changing law enforcement needs in the Bakken Region. During that meeting, Hoeven and Stenehjem highlighted a letter they sent that week to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requesting that the agencies increase the number of agents and permanently staff offices in western North Dakota. The letter can be found here.

In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Hoeven is a member, passed the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which directs the DOJ to create plans to support law enforcement in the Bakken.