Butte County is one of eight California counties that offers a new service that will process and analyze DNA evidence in sexual assault cases within 15 days, rather than taking months or years.
The program began Wednesday in the emergency departments of Enloe Medical Center in Chico, Oroville Hospital and Feather River Hospital in Paradise.
Every year, thousands of individuals take the courageous step of reporting their rape to the police. They overcome the social stigma of being the victim of sexual violence, the warnings sometimes uttered by the rapist to keep silent, the suggestions that these issues ought not to be spoken of; and they speak up. During a forensic exam of their bodies which can take between four and six hours evidence is collected in a “Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit” — a rape kit.
When tested, DNA evidence contained inside rape kits can be an incredibly powerful tool to solve and prevent crime. It can identify an unknown assailant and confirm the presence of a known suspect. It can affirm the survivor’s account of the attack and discredit the suspect. It can connect the suspect to other crime scenes. It can exonerate innocent suspects.
To accomplish these things, however, rape kits must be tested.
The federal government estimates that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in police and crime lab storage facilities across the country in what is known as the rape kit backlog.
Sexual assault investigators often rely on DNA evidence from victim exam kits to aid in identifying suspects and solving cases.
However, local investigators don’t send exam kits from every case to the state Crime Lab to be tested because of concerns about overloading lab staff. Local departments typically submit exam kits to the Crime Lab only if a suspect is charged, or if the victim does not know the offender.
Evidence culled from old rape-evidence kits continues to add up, with 688 of 2,093 kits — about 1 in 3 — tested so far by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation resulting in positive “hits” in the state DNA database.
The Boston police crime lab is facing an “unprecedented” backlog of rape kit testing, and it is taking nearly six months to turn some of the key evidence around, according to new legislative study that said the state suffers from a slew of unnecessary delays that could be slowing justice for victims.
Victims of rape in Washington, DC may soon be unable to get sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kits, often called rape kits. DC’s budget is under federal control, so if the federal government’s shutdown continues much longer, some of the city’s necessary programs–including those intended to help rape victims–may be temporarily discontinued due to lack of funding.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted the DNA profiles of four unknown suspects last week in rape cases first reported in 1993.
Federal grants help, but regional, city crime labs struggle to meet demand has become so successful in solving real crimes that local law enforcement labs find themselves with more work than they can handle.
Houston’s success in clearing its backlog of untested rape kits should be held up as a model for other cities around Texas to follow, officials said Wednesday.
Houston has spent $4.4 million in federal and city funding to address its backlog of more than 6,600 rape kits, Mayor Annise Parker said.