Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive



Tuesday, December 18, 2001

ATTORNEY GENERAL AWARDS GRANTS IN FORT WORTH

University of North Texas Health Science Center to Receive $1 Million

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced a $1 million grant over the next two years for the establishment and operation of a statewide DNA database. The facility, to be housed at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNT HSC) in Fort Worth, will perform forensic analysis consistent with FBI standards.

"The DNA Identity Lab here in Fort Worth is already one of the premier facilities in the country," Attorney General Cornyn said. "There couldn't be a more fitting location for a project of this significance."

Senate Bill 1304, passed in the 2001 legislative session, authorized the creation of a DNA database. The grants come from the attorney general's Crime Victim's Compensation Fund, which is financed with fees paid by those who break the law -- not taxpayer money. The DNA lab will be compatible with the federal government's database, which will allow for better identification of missing persons.

Unlike other facilities, the testing at UNT HSC will allow DNA samples from unidentified human remains to be compared with DNA samples from personal articles belonging to missing persons, such as clothing and other possessions.

"The work to be done here will help the FBI and other law enforcement agencies nationwide in identifying human remains," Cornyn said. "This database will greatly increase the opportunity for positive identification. Hopefully, this will aid in bringing closure to families of loved ones who have disappeared."

Once it's up and running, the center will focus first on cases involving children. The center is also creating an advisory committee consisting of medical examiners, law enforcement officials, and other interested persons to establish priorities regarding the identification of the backlog of high-risk missing person cases and unidentified human remains.

For more than 10 years, the DNA Identity Laboratory at the UNT HSC has provided scientific and technical support for Texas law enforcement agencies, crime labs, and state agencies, including forensic genetic screening , DNA testing, and paternity testing.

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