In his State of the Commonwealth Address Tuesday night, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced that he had allocated $4.5 million in state funding to address the state’s backlog of untested rape kits. The kits are used in sexual assault investigations in hopes of collecting potentially valuable forensic and DNA evidence.
A state audit released in late 2015 found Kentucky has more than 3000 untested rape kits. The audit also found that, typically, there is an eight month delay from when the kit is sent to the state crime lab to when the kit is processed.
This 2.5-minute video explains what a sexual assault kit is and how investigators use it. The video is part of a series created by NIJ and the FBI Laboratory in Quantico to describe the NIJ-FBI partnership to test sexual assault kits that have not been submitted to a forensics laboratory. The partnership is helping to shed light on the complexities of sexual assault evidence processing. The team is using scientific methods to assess current practices and find new practices that improve the quality and speed of testing sexual assault kits.
More than 13,000 rape evidence kits have gone untested or unprocessed in Florida, and clearing the backlog could cost the state tens of millions of dollars, according to study results released Monday.
The study, conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement from August to December 2015, found that 13,435 sexual assault evidence kits across the state have not been tested (PDF). That means that forensic evidence was collected from possible rape victims but has not been processed in order to match DNA evidence with possible suspects.
The FDLE is expected to release the results of thousands of backlogged rape kits Monday.
In Florida, there are 11,000 untested kits from more than 260 agencies, including those in the Bay area.
This could pave the way for healing, justice and closure for rape survivors.
In August last year, a special fast track court (FTC) dealing with cases of sexual assault on women asked for the crucial forensic report in a 2014 case of alleged rape and murder in South Delhi. After repeated reminders, the forensic department finally informed the court this September that the report’s “results are not yet ready”.
On September 8, leaving the Delhi police and forensic agencies red-faced, additional sessions judge (ASJ) Devendra Kumar Sharma said: “…in the Sheena Bora case, which is under media scrutiny, even the DNA test is carried out within one month. This kind of promptness is required in all cases related to heinous offences. But unfortunately, same is not done even in the present case where allegation is of murder after committing rape…”
There are 3,482 untested rape kits in Minnesota, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) announced.
The agency released its most comprehensive look at the rape kit backlog Thursday after Minnesota lawmakers directed law enforcement officials to count the number of untested kits and provide a complete inventory by Dec. 1, 2015, including why the kits haven’t been processed.
This week, we learned that there are at least 10,000 unprocessed sexual assault kits in Florida. The preliminary results are part of an ongoing assessment by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to identify all unprocessed kits in the state. FDLE will complete its statewide assessment next month and then the real work of finding the most expedient way to process these untested kits will begin. However, we must not forget that each one of these kits represents a victim — a person who was violated in the worst possible way.
Madison,WI – Thousands and thousands of rape kits are sitting on shelves in Wisconsin, untested. Meanwhile, more people are going to local hospitals saying they are rape victims.
BURLINGTON, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Laboratory Corporation of America® Holdings (LabCorp®) (NYSE: LH) announced today that Bode Cellmark Forensics, a member of the LabCorp Specialty Testing Group, has entered into an agreement with the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY) that recognizes Bode Cellmark as a preferred forensic laboratory eligible to process untested sexual assault kits for grant recipients of DANY’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Program.
LAS VEGAS, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt has announced his office will pledge $3.68 million in funding to eliminate Nevada’s backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits, or “rape kits.”
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Justice and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. today announced nearly $80 million in grants to law enforcement agencies across the nation to test rape kits, prosecute cases and support victims.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s crime lab has been testing rape kits since 2011 and a team led by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty’s office has handled more than 1,800 investigations resulting in hundreds of indictments and more than 100 convictions.
Here are some things that investigators, prosecutors and advocates in other cities and state might learn from Ohio.
The Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratories have received a $1.9 million grant for DNA testing on backlogged sexual assault kits.
The grant, from the District Attorney of New York County’s office in Manhattan, will help law enforcement agencies across the state in processing the more than 800 backlogged kits, some of which have been sitting in police storage facilities for years.
Until this year, Portland police did not routinely present DNA evidence obtained from all rape cases to the state crime lab.
But as detectives struggled to solve the Dec. 13 rape and killing of 14-year-old Melissa Bittler and pored through old sexual assault cases, they found more than 1,000 rape kits that never had been submitted and recognized a need for new protocol.
Attorney General Mark Herring and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran announced today that the Commonwealth of Virginia has received a $1.4 million grant to conduct DNA testing and analyze more than 2,000 untested Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) associated with sexual assaults in Virginia.
“This funding will provide us the financial wherewithal to screen and test these things for DNA and potentially put those in our DNA database,” said Kermit Channell, Executive Director of the Arkansas State Crime Lab.