Former elected official and attorney Bill Lockyer discusses the elimination of the State of California’s DNA lab backlog.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, / July 27, 2020 / Bill Lockyer, former California Attorney General, recalls an important state even that happened nearly 20 years ago. In June of 2001, Bill Lockyer was able to announce that an enormous backlog of unanalyzed blood samples from convicted felons had been eliminated.
Bill Lockyer explained that the state was storing roughly 100,000 blood samples from felons throughout the years. He added that while these samples were sitting in storage they were not be analyzed or compared to the DNA collected at crime scenes. These samples, which would become useful in countless investigations, were bound to sit in storage forever before Bill Lockyer was elected.
Bill Lockyer added that this was a major highlight in his career, as his administration was able to find evidence for more cold cases than the previous seven years combined. Lockyer explained that his team was making one cold hit per week, while previous teams simply held the samples in storage. He added that a “cold hit” is when one of the analyzed DNA profiles from the DNA lab backlog is matched to a DNA profile extracted from a crime scene.
Bill Lockyer took office in 1999, and set himself the goal of eliminating the backlog of DNA samples by mid-2001. Critics said this was an impossible task, but Lockyer was able to accomplish the task before its deadline. The press release announcing the DNA lab backlog had been eliminated was published on June 25, 2001.
By that date, Bill Lockyer stated that 41 suspects had been identified using the Department of Justice’s DNA Convinced Felon Databank since its formation in 1994. However, 20 of the cold hits were made under the administration of Lockyer. Three of those 20 hits were in homicide cases that had been cold for more than 15 years. Bill Lockyer continues to pride himself on finding closure for these families and justice for those harmed.
This DNA lab is also a creator of employment opportunities for California citizens with more than 120 positions held. Bill Lockyer holding the Attorney General position led to a serious cleaning up of the DNA lab backlog, and he hopes it will never become as backed up as it did. During these years the more than 100,000 blood samples were sitting in storage, dozens of criminals who should have been behind bars were walking free. Lockyer helped set a positive precedent for future administrations.