Florida has more than 13K untested rape kits
Posted on January 05, 2016 11:00 AM EST
The state of Florida has over 13,000 untested rape kits, according to a report released on Monday. Getting the kits tested could cost the state tens of millions of dollars and it could take years to handle the backlog.
In a $300,000 study conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency was determined to find out why the state had such a large backlog. The FDLE will be presenting its findings to the lawmakers this month.
Backlogs for untested rape kits are not only a statewide problem, it's an issue across the United States.
In September, federal officials said that roughly 70,000 rape kits sitting in evidence collection rooms and laboratories across the nation will be tested with federal funds and New York City funds, totaling $79 million.
There are currently 13,345 untested rape kits in Florida. Of those, 9,484 should have been tested, according to Monday's report. In the interest of public safety, the FDLE recommends that all sexual assault kits be tested.
Why do so many rape kits go untested?
According to the report, there are two main reasons why kits go untested: 1) because the victim decides not to move forward with an investigation (41 percent), and 2) because the state attorney's office decided not to prosecute (31 percent).
Other reasons include the victim's death, a victim who decided not to file a police report, or a suspect's guilty plea, according to NBC 6 News.
Clearing the backlog won't happen overnight, and it won't be cheap. According to Monday's report, any proposals to test the 13,000 plus kits depends on additional funding for:
- Outsourcing, and
- A stabilized workforce of crime laboratory analysts.
In November, Gov. Rick Scott said that he will be seeking $8.5 million to go towards processing the backlog, however, according to the report, it will cost between $9 and $32 million to handle the backlog, which is expected to take three to nine years.
Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement that in the upcoming legislative session, she will be working with lawmakers, law enforcement and victims' advocates to ensure that Florida's crime labs have the necessary resources to process the sexual assault kits.
The FDLE contends that the most inexpensive and efficient way to handle the backlog is to combine federal funding, outsourcing and overtime for lab workers.
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