There are serious consequences when state and federal governments don’t put enough money into DNA testing. Need evidence? Just look at Detroit.
In Detroit, a backlog of rape kits uncovered four years ago was finally processed, leading to the identification of 100 serial rapists. More than 11,000 unprocessed rape kits were found in a police storage facility in 2009, with some of the kits dating back to the 1980s. Detroit’s WXYZ reports that 1,600 of the newly discovered rape kits have been processed so far.
The backlog of unprocessed rape kits in the U.S. is shocking. Law enforcement officials use rape kits — which include a DNA test — to determine whether someone has been sexually assaulted.
As National Journal‘s Brian Resnick reported in August, crime labs have an enormous backlog of biological evidence, including rape kits. This is because the U.S. doesn’t have enough genetic-testing equipment to meet the high demand for DNA processing.
Mariska Hargitay, the actress who plays a detective in Law and Order: SVU, is producing a documentary about the backlog problem. She’s also helping Michigan lawmakers promote legislation that would set deadlines for rape kits to be processed.
At the national level, the Justice Department estimates that 400,000 rape kits have been left unprocessed. Vice President Joe Biden, a vocal advocate against sexual assault, has also spoken out about the backlog, and the White House is now devoting $35 million of the 2015 budget to rape-kit processing.
DeShawn Starks — one of the rapists newly identified by Detroit police — was found to have raped two women in two separate incidents in 2003. Both rape kits were left unprocessed, and 10 years later, Starks raped two more women. He has now been sentenced to 45 to 90 years in prison.
DNA testing may be costly, but the price of leaving rape kits unprocessed can be far costlier.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”