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County enlists aid in DNA lab fallout

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County is pledging close to $1 million to help straighten out the mess created by the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab catastrophe. On Tuesday, the Commissioners Court agreed to ink a contract with the Capital Area Private Defender Service to review cases whose outcomes could have been influenced by potentially corrupted DNA evidence. The full annual cost of the deal is $545,407, which the county will pay to cover Fiscal Year 2018 beginning this October. For the period between now and then, the county will pay “a little bit under $400,000,” a staff member told the court on Tuesday. The contract would be up for review at the end of FY 2018. APD’s DNA lab closed down last summer after a state commission unearthed shocking findings that included contaminated test results, policies that potentially encouraged confirmation bias and scientifically questionable protocols.

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