Markey’s Criminal Justice Amendments Adopted; Special Commission on Criminal Justice, Crime Lab Receives Needed Funding Boost
(BOSTON) – During Wednesday’s marathon budget session, three amendments relative to criminal justice filed by State Representative Christopher M. Markey (D-Dartmouth) were adopted as part of a consolidated amendment relative to the Judiciary and Public Safety for Fiscal Year 2013. As part of “consolidated amendment ‘J’”, Markey’s amendments addressed the need for greater funding of the State Police Crime Lab’s DNA database, and the continuation and funding of a Special Commission on Criminal Justice.
Representative Markey, who represents the Ninth Bristol District and serves on both the Judiciary Committee and the Special Commission on Criminal Justice, explained the need for increased funding to the Crime Lab and how critical the Lab’s services are to law enforcement. He said, “the State Police Crime Laboratory allows law enforcement to match DNA from unsolved violent offenses. As it stands now, the Crime Lab is behind in their ability to enter DNA as a result of a lack of personnel. The funds added in this amendment will assist in reducing this backlog. Accurately expediting the processing of such evidence helps our District Attorneys with unsolved crimes and pending cases”
As adopted in the consolidated amendment, the Crime Lab receives $200,000 “for the recording and processing for DNA samples”. Joseph Early, Worcester County District Attorney and President of the Massachusetts District Attorneys’’ Association, thanked Markey for his efforts. “I’m very pleased with the additional monies," he said. "From our standpoint, it’s so important to process DNA forensic evidence as quickly as possible. Having more chemists means we’ll be able to do our job better. We’re very happy that the House recognized this importance and funded it as such". Markey’s initial amendment was cosponsored early by several legislators, receiving bipartisan support. He added, “our District Attorneys have been very vocal about this particular need and, having served as an Assistant District Attorney in Bristol County, I got the message immediately. The budget is surely tight, but public safety is one of those priorities in which you just can’t compromise.”
Additionally, as part of amendment “J”, the Special Commission on Criminal Justice is extended and funding of $75,000 is allocated to its administration. According to Representative Markey, the Commission was formed in 2011 “to explore and develop solutions to issues that have been steadily growing in frequency and severity in our society; recidivism, habitual offenders, sentencing classification, mandatory minimums, substance abuse and the role of mental health to name a few.” He added, “the Commission brings together a wide range of experts on the subject of Criminal Justice, and should continue to serve as an organ for developing sound, informed policy.” Markey’s initial amendments regarding the Special Commission garnered the early support of several legislators, including State Representative Robert Koczera of New Bedford.