The federal government estimates that hundreds of thousands of rape kits have been collecting dust on the shelves of police departments and crime lab storage facilities for years.
Rape kits have not been processed for three main reasons:
- Lack of funding – each kit costs between $1,000 – $1,500 to process
- Lack of manpower – more personnel are needed to ship and transport untested kits to crime labs
- Detectives’ discretion – many detectives and police departments don’t prioritize sexual assaults high enough and only request processing if the perpetrator is known and they are likely to get a conviction
Processing the DNA in those kits will reveal the names of thousands of unknown assailants and confirm the presence of known suspects. The kits can also confirm the accounts of victims, connect suspects to other crimes exonerate innocent suspects and prevent countless more sexual assaults.
Lillian Smith supports the End the Backlog campaign and urges federal, state and local government officials to fund and direct police and crime labs to process the kits immediately.
Nearly $80 million worth of grants were authorized in 11 states in 2015, but tens of thousands of additional rape kits must still be tested.
Stand with Lillian Smith and help end the rape kit backlog:
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