An initiative being proposed by the federal government could help bring criminals to justice through the use of DNA technology by providing funds, training, and assistance.

The new DNA initiative, "Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology," proposes $232.6 million in federal funding in fiscal year 2004 and a total of $1 billion over five years to improve the use of DNA technology in the criminal justice system.

Nearly $80 million would go toward testing evidence from unsolved cases, and $15 million is earmarked for addressing what analysts believe are tens of thousands of unsolved rape cases in which DNA evidence has been stored in police lockers for years without being tested.

Some of the new funding would be spent on training for judges, prosecutors, police officers, and sexual assault counselors on how to make use of DNA to solve and prevent crimes.

Funding also would be used to expand the number of convicted criminals whose DNA could become part of a national database.

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