The Very Real Consequences of Leaving Rape Kits Unprocessed

Detroit identified 100 serial rapists from a cache of forgotten rape kits.

National Journal
Emma Roller
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Emma Roller
March 19, 2014, 1 a.m.

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.

What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
14 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
17 hours ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
17 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
1 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login