President's DNA Initiative
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. The agency is committed to exploring crime control and justice issues. An area of focus is "DNA technology" which has increasingly become a vital tool in the criminal justice system. In order to increase and improve the use of this technology, the President announced a 5 year, billion dollar initiative, (President's DNA Initiative), which promotes "Advancing Justice through DNA Technology".
The President's DNA Initiative targets specific goals:
- To eliminate the current testing backlog of DNA samples
- Improve DNA laboratories' testing capacities
- Research and Development of DNA technologies
- Training and Assistance for criminal justice professionals
- Provide access to post conviction DNA testing
- The use of DNA for missing persons cases and identifying human remains
- Protect the innocent
The UNT, Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI), with support by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), has become a recognized national center providing scientific and technical support to law enforcement agencies, medical examiners, and crime labs throughout the country.
UNTCHI in collaboration with law enforcement offers families with missing loved ones the opportunity to submit reference samples for DNA testing. The lab is one of only a few facilities that integrates nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) for analyses. Once DNA profiles are obtained, they are directly entered into the FBI's Combined DNA Index System plus Mito (CODIS+mito) database.
In addition to testing family and direct reference samples, the DNA lab works in collaboration with the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology in Denton, Texas to help identify the remains of victims. DNA profiles obtained from remains are also entered into the CODIS+mito database.
The UNT, Center for Human Identification is accredited by Forensic Quality Services-I based on the requirements set forth by ISO/IEC 17025 and the FBI Director's Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic Testing Laboratories.
The UNT Health Science Center offers a graduate program in Forensic Genetics. Many of the well trained, qualified forensic analysts are graduates of this program. They are experienced in all facets of forensic DNA testing. All analysts are required to undergo regular proficiency testing and participate in continuing education.
UNTCHI will provide depositions and expert testimony for those cases that may involve a judicial process.