Pubdate: Sun, 25 Jul 2004
Source: Bowling Green Daily News (KY)
Copyright: 2004 News Publishing LLC


We never thought it would happen.

The Kentucky crime labs have actually eliminated a backlog of drug cases 
that have plagued our courts for years.

The six crime labs have handled 16,000 drug cases since January and no 
cases older than 60 days remain.

"It is 100 percent better than it was this time last year," said Shane 
Young, Chief narcotics prosecutor for the Jefferson County Commonwealth's 
Attorney office.

Young said that nine out of 10 cases he looks at include lab results.

This is great news for our state and more importantly our courts.

The slowness of the crime lab results has delayed case after case in the 
courts and frustrated judges to the point of subpoenaing crime lab 
officials to court to have them explain what the cause was for the 
extensive backup.

Assistant Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Cohron said the 
elimination of the backlog is welcome news.

"From here on out they will be in a situation where the turn-around time 
will be a lot shorter," Cohron said.

Although Cohron said that Warren County didn't have a very long backlog, 
they are getting results a lot quicker now.

Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, who in December gave labs an ultimatum of either 
eliminating the backlog or being moved under the supervision of the Justice 
Cabinet, deserves a lot of credit for putting the necessary pressure on the 
crime labs to catch up.

Pence and Gov. Ernie Fletcher made this an issue during the campaign and 
should be commended for following up their campaign talk with action.

The six labs in the state have 140 analysts and support staff to handle 
cases from about 400 law enforcement agencies.

Their caseload nearly doubled from 20,700 in 1989 to 40,000 in 2003.

A lot of these cases also had to be sent to private labs to enable them to 
catch up.

We are just elated that the backlog has been eliminated.

Hopefully, now courts won't have to wait for results as long as they have 
in the past, and those accused of crimes will have their day in court in a 
more timely manner.
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