The Clarion-Ledger, 12/15/8

Many lawmakers and state officials agree that Mississippi’s criminal investigation system needs revamping, specifically the way DNA evidence is handled, how the state crime lab is funded and what to do about the long-vacant state medical examiner’s office.

But addressing any of those concerns will require a lot of extra money, and that’s something the state likely won’t have when the fiscal year begins July 1 amid ongoing recession.

Attorney General Jim Hood is to go before a panel of lawmakers today to discuss his proposals to better finance the crime lab and the state medical examiner’s office.

Both are part of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

Hood formed a task force earlier this year and has now spent months traveling to other states to gather ideas and figure out how much it would cost the state to undertake improvements.

The lab’s current budget is $9.3 million, including the state medical examiner’s office.