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April 28, 2005 - Hawaii will receive $790,276 over a 24-month period from the Department of Justice to help solve old, unsolved "cold" cases and identify the missing using DNA evidence. Earlier today, Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey announced $14.2 million to 38 jurisdictions nationwide at the first-ever Department of Justice conference on the missing and unidentified dead--National Strategy Meeting: Identifying the Missing.

The grants are part of the President's DNA initiative, Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology, a five-year, more than $1 billion effort to eliminate casework and the convicted offender backlog; improve crime lab capacity; provide DNA training; provide for post-conviction DNA testing; and conduct testing to identify missing persons. Last fall, the Department of Justice awarded $95 million in DNA grants nationwide.

Edward H. Kubo, Jr., United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that the award demonstrates the Department of Justice's continuing commitment to assist state and local law enforcement in bringing closure to the families of victims and holding accountable those responsible for yet-unsolved homicides and disappearances.

State of Hawaii Attorney General Mark J. Bennett said that his office has established a program dedicated exclusively to the resolution of violent crime "cold cases" and missing persons cases through the use of DNA testing, and that the money designated for this program will be available for use by any participating law enforcement agency in Hawaii.

The promise of DNA to help solve cold cases and identify the missing and deceased is endless. On average, there are over 100,000 missing persons listed in the National Crime Information System (NCIC), the national, computerized index of criminal justice information. Over 45,000 of those have a last known contact of over a year ago and just 50 of the missing persons in the NCIC have their DNA information listed. Of the 5,800 unidentified dead that are listed in the NCIC, only 33 of these have their DNA information entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a database that enables federal, state, and local crime labs to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking crimes to each other and to convicted offenders. However, there are an additional 244 DNA profiles of unidentified human remains in CODIS that are not recorded in NCIC.

According to a study funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research, development and evaluation arm of the Department of Justice, researchers estimate that biological evidence either still in the possession of local law enforcement or backlogged at forensic crime laboratories is estimated to be 542,700. With these grants, the Department of Justice has made sure that local jurisdictions, which often have the greatest DNA backlogs, are directly awarded DNA money.

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