Forensics Cutbacks

A 16 percent budget cut is projected in 2003 at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. According to state Director J.C. Downs, that will have a negative effect on pending criminal cases.

Downs issued the warning in a letter dated June 11 to law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and county coroners, telling them what they can expect.

Downs said the cutbacks will mean the department will stop transporting corpses and processing drug labs. Operating after regular business hours will cease and pagers, cell phones, and answering services will be eliminated.

The cuts also threaten the department's work on fingerprints, arsons, forged documents and other trace evidence like carpet fibers.

Downs predicts if he's forced to make the cutbacks, the state will experience a greater backlog in county jails and courts.