HOUSTON—Authorities testing a substantial backlog of DNA evidence compiled by Houston police have identified potential offenders in a third of the cases where sufficient samples were provided.

The evidence includes 6,600 sexual assault kits held by police over the years after the department closed its forensic lab when an audit revealed shoddy work, unqualified personnel and other problems.

The city has hired private forensic labs to clear the backlog of rape kits and other DNA evidence that must be tested.

The Houston Chronicle reports ( http://bit.ly/1e4LzSZ) that while critics have applauded the rapid pace of recent testing, the delay in processing evidence means justice was denied to sexual assault victims.

Houston officials have spent millions to outsource DNA testing to reduce the backlog, including $2.1 million in federal money in 2010 and 2011.

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com