MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Gov. Kay Ivey amped up the arsenal in the fight against opioids and other illegal or abused drugs with $386,207.
"If you're a judge here and you're dealing with a defendant that says 'I'm not guilty,' part of what we have to prove is that was in fact a controlled substance," explained Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard.
Governor Ivey awarded grants of $260,207 and $126,000 to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. These grants are for purchasing two state-of-the-art substance analyzers capable of rapidly analyzing and identifying prescription and illegal drugs, including opioids. The analyzers are also expected to help reduce the backlog of drug cases.
"You're talking about a matter of months that normally we even get back in touch with them, and tell them if the case is going to settle without them having to test it," Broussard said.
“Evidence provided by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences is often the difference between whether a suspect is convicted or set free,” Ivey said. “These new tools will greatly enhance the ability of technicians to accurately examine drug evidence and provide that information to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors.”
The analyzers identify solid and liquid substances in order to determine the presence and type of drug. Average screening time for each sample is expected to take about two minutes, according to the department. The Department of Forensic Sciences performs evidence collection and identification for more than 450 law enforcement agencies in Alabama.
"You look at all the advances in science, and the community expects it in the courtroom," Broussard said. "So much of the criminal justice system does hinge on science."
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available to the state from the U.S. Department of Justice.