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WASHINGTON — The FBI laboratory has reduced its backlog of forensic DNA cases by 87 percent in two years, from 3,211 cases to 403 cases.

The Justice Department’s inspector general attributes most of the decline to increased staffing and using automated technology. Also, the FBI is focusing on cases where DNA testing of biological evidence is more likely to yield useful information.

The lab conducts DNA tests on biological evidence taken from crime scenes and such items as envelopes, clothing, and drinking glasses.

Most reductions took place in the nuclear DNA Unit, which examines fluids, blood, and semen. Also reducing its caseload was the mitochondrial DNA unit, which analyzes hair fragments, bones, and teeth. The inspector general reported Tuesday that the backlog was reduced from March 2010 to March of this year.

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Associated Press