Untested rape kits: Still a problem

County law-enforcement officials raided the police department in Harvey, Illinois — where they found more than 200 rape kits that had never been sent to the state crime lab to be processed. (via Kate.)

“During the raid, investigators also videotaped the Harvey evidence vault, which revealed approximately 200 rape kits, many of which were never processed by the Illinois State Police Crime Lab at that point,” Milan said. “In the spring of 2007, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office sex-crimes unit secured these kits and began having them tested by the [state] crime lab. One of those cold-case rapes had been charged since then.”
John Gorman, spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, said about one quarter of the cases were sent out for testing. “We went through and got about 50 cases where we thought we might have DNA in the rape kits,” he said. “The other 150 or so kits were cases in which the offense would not have been a DNA-type offense or where the victim refused to cooperate.”

Police not having the staff or funds to actually process rape kits has long been a huge issue, with hundreds of thousands of kits just sitting in storage awaiting testing. It got a lot of media play several years ago, when Congress considered legislation to fund rape kit testing. From what I can tell, the groups dedicated to drawing attention to this issue have not been active since 2003. Does anyone know what’s going on with the rape kit backlog these days? The Harvey story shows it’s obviously still a problem.

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