DNA Data Bank Oversight Panel

Minutes for September 27, 2011

The meeting convened at 9:37 a.m. In attendance were members/designees Kenneth Zercie, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) - Forensic Lab, Robert H. Powers, DESPP-Forensic Lab, Carll Ladd, DESPP-Forensic Lab, Michael Bourke, DESPP-Forensic Lab, Patricia Johannes, DESPP-Forensic Lab, Wanda White-Lewis, Department of Correction (DOC), George Camp, DOC, Michael Aiello, Court Support Services Division (CSSD), Joe Biela, DESPP, Karen Goodrow, Connecticut Innocence Project, Dawn Hellier, DESPP, Lynn Wittenbrink, Attorney General (AG), and Michael Gailor, Office of the Chief State's Attorney (OCSA).

The minutes of the meeting of June 14, 2011 were reviewed and were unanimously accepted without modification. There was no public comment.

Dr. Bourke reported approximately 85,972 convicted offender samples have been submitted to the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory and that approximately 82,176 have been profiled and are resident in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The lab has approximately 3,800 samples that have yet to be processed. The forensic index contains 4,248 profiles. As of May 31, 2011, four thousand six hundred fifteen forensic cases were backlogged awaiting DNA processing. The lab reports a total of 1,813 confirmed hits as of August 31, 2011 with over 100 more in the process of being confirmed.

The lab reported that its accreditation has lapsed and that all federal grant funds are frozen until the lab is reaccredited. The lab also reported that as a result of the lapse in accreditation the DNA section has been suspended from NDIS CODIS participation.

The lab’s loss of accreditation essentially prohibits the DNA processing of any DNA work that may need to be searched in CODIS. NDIS procedures permanently prohibit the entry into CODIS of any DNA profiles generated by an unaccredited laboratory. As a result, the DNA Section will only process a very limited of casework samples and no offender samples until the lab is reaccredited. The lab is working with the Governor’s Committee which is studying the lab to determine the root cause of the problems that led to the loss of accreditation. It is anticipated that the Committee will look to recommend solutions.

The lab has submitted its response to an audit of the DNA Section and is awaiting a response from NDIS.

The lab reports that a number of validation projects are underway or soon will be. These projects will include the validation of additional or improved typing kits and several models of extraction robots.

The lab recently underwent another audit, this one by ASCLADLAB. They are waiting to hear the results of that audit.

Karen Goodrow of the Innocence Project reported that her organization had received grant funding in the amount of $1.4 million and that those funds will be available in December. There is funding in that grant for two positions at the lab but until such time as the lab’s accreditation is restored there will be conditions placed on the use of the lab for their cases. Attorney Goodrow noted that she is working as part of the Committee studying the issues at the lab and that she is on the Root Cause and Prioritization subcommittees.

George Camp of the Department of Correction reported that they have been collecting samples and that they have no new refusals. They are in the process of revising their policies to allow for the use of force when someone refuses to provide a sample. He noted that only one inmate who has refused to provide a sample is due to discharge before the end of the year.

Michael Aiello of the Court Support Services Division reported that in July they collected 195 samples. He also noted that they have started seeking warrants for individuals who have not provided samples. He noted that two warrants were obtained in June and another 6 in July. He noted that they have had some issues in getting some of the State’s Attorneys to prosecute people who have refused to give a sample when they don’t have the form from the court directing the person to report to probation to provide a sample even when they have their own form advising the person of the requirement. Michael Gailor from the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office indicated he would raise the issue with the State’s Attorneys.

Sergeant Joseph Biela of the Department of Public Safety DNA unit reported that they have been accepting packets Court Support Services regarding individuals who have failed to provide samples and they have prepared warrants for some of those individuals. He noted that three of those warrants have been signed by judges. He noted that they are having some manpower issues as a Trooper who was assigned to the DNA unit was reassigned to roadwork. He noted personnel is currently being adjusted.

The most recent legislative enactments were discussed. The lab reported that the new legislation will allow them to go get new swabbings from individuals for whom the initial swabbings did not produce a result. Issues were discussed surrounding the new legislation that would require police to take samples from convicted felons who had not previously provided samples upon a new arrest for a serious crime. It was noted that the legislation only requires the police to take the samples as funding allows and the lab to test them if funding allows. It was noted that no additional funds have been provided to either the police or the lab for these samples. The lab noted that if the police are going to be taking these samples they are going to need to order kits to do so and that it might make sense for them to do so as a group because the kits are much cheaper in bulk than they are individually. Discussion was had about whether new kits would have to be ordered to differentiate these samples from convicted offender samples and whether procedures would have to be developed to alert the lab when a person was convicted or a case dismissed. It was proposed that a committee be set up to deal with implementation issues. The committee should consist of members from Judicial/CSSD, the police, the lab, and the state’s attorney’s offices. Questions for the subcommittee to consider should be drafted.

Executive Session

The meeting went into executive session at 10:55 a.m. It came out of executive session at 10:57 a.m. The following action was taken as a result of the session:

9-27-11 A – Sample purged.

The next meeting date was set for December 13, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

Upon motion and second, the meeting was adjourned at 11:00 a.m.