Ala. Drug Cases Halted By Investigation Backlog

Jun 26, 2013

The Drug Chemistry Laboratory at the Mongtomery lab.
Credit Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences

State officials say funding cuts and the closure of several drug investigation labs has led to a backlog delaying more than 30,000 criminal cases from going to court.

Montgomery Regional Laboratory Director Katherine Richert says that nearly 30,400 are unresolved because of understaffing and a spike in cases after the closure of several regional laboratories.

Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences Director, Michael Sparks, says forensic labs in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Auburn are also struggling to keep up with processing drug cases after the closure of three regional laboratories - including one in Dothan.

Sparks says the state will likely catch up on the cases when newly-hired chemists finish an 18 to 24-month training program, and are cleared to examine evidence.