On Jan. 4, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a report, revealing
that there are more than 13,000 untested rape kits in evidence rooms across
the state – that’s up 141 percent in the last four years,
with the most being in the past year.
According to the FDLE, of the 13,435 kits that have yet to be tested, nearly
9,500 of them should be submitted for testing to catalog DNA evidence
which could eventually convict offenders of sex crimes, even years after
the crimes were committed.
That way, the agency says, the convictions can pave the way for victims
to heal, for justice, and so rape survivors can have closure.
Clearing the backlog won’t be cheap. It comes at a prices of between
$9 million and $32 million. Not only that, it will take from three to
nine years for officials to get through the 6,661 untested kits that the
FDLE says are under the agency’s jurisdiction.
There is another problem: Some counties, such as Pinellas have their own
crime labs. Those counties will have to get their own funding in order
for them to clear the 6,674 remaining rape kits.
The issue of mass amounts of untested rape kits is not limited to Florida,
it’s a nationwide problem. According to CBS 10 News, President Barack
Obama and Congress have set aside millions of dollars to help get rape
kits tested in various cities.
Why are there so many untested rape kits?
With more than 13,000 untested rape kits in Florida, this number has people
wondering why there is such a backlog. It’s because each time that
prosecutor or detective does not request DNA evidence in a case, the rape
kit is then booked into evidence, which ends up being stored in police
Another backlog exists in crime labs where rape kits are sent for testing,
but are in line for DNA analysis and have yet to be tested due to personnel
or budgetary issues.
The FDLE poured $300,000 into a study to determine why Florida has such
a problem with untested rape kits; the results will be presented before
the legislature later this month.
In a statement, Attorney General Pam Bondi called the unprocessed
sexual assault kits a public safety issue that must be addressed. She said that in the
upcoming legislative session, she will work with law enforcement, lawmakers
and victims’ advocates to ensure that Florida’s crime labs
have the resources necessary to continue testing the unprocessed sexual
assault kits, CBS 10 News reported.
If you are facing sexual assault charges in Tampa,
contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to work with aggressive defense lawyers with
a track record for success!