Detroit Rape Kits Almost All Tested Finally

The backlog of thousands of untested rape kits that were found in a Detroit city crime lab several years ago is finally almost cleared, resulting in nearly 2500 suspects identified and many new convictions. Now the problem is keeping up the testing so the backlog doesn’t build up again.

The vast majority of the thousands of unopened rape kits found six years ago in a Detroit police storage locker have been tested, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said there’s much more work to be done.

Worthy said ensuring that rape kits are tested in a timely manner is necessary to prevent another massive backlog from happening again. Worthy’s office has collaborated with the Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police and countless other organizations since the backlog was discovered…

The Detroit Free Press examined local police agencies data regarding untested rape kits in conjunction with a nationwide USA TODAY investigation. The USA TODAY Media Network investigation identified tens of thousands of sexual assault evidence kits never tested by police across the country. USA TODAY, journalists at Gannett newspapers and TEGNA TV stations found at least 70,000 neglected kits in an open-records campaign covering 1,000-plus police agencies.

In Michigan, the Detroit kits still make up the majority of those awaiting testing. To date, largest backlog by far remains in Wayne County, where 10,000 of the 11,341 kits found in 2009 have been tested or are in the process of being tested. As of July 10, Detroit’s kit testing initiative has identified 2,478 suspects — including 456 serial rapists identified as of June 30 — and 20 convictions have been secured.

This same progress must be made around the country, where there’s an estimated 70,000 rape kits sitting on the shelves.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Michael Heath

    It seems to me that debating the necessity of sufficient funding to test rape kits would be a bipartisan issue. I don’t go so far as to claim passing funding is a GOP objective given how Republicans have become increasingly misogynist since evangelicals and fundies dominate the voting base. But debating the need for fundings should make for a good pose on their end.

    So any perspective on budgetary debates to provide funding would be welcomed by me and I suspect other readers.

  • D. C. Sessions

    456 serial rapists. Let that sink in.

    456 individuals responsible for more than 1000 rapes — 10% of the kits, people. That alone is more than the national rate of investigations, much less convictions. Cops didn’t even do a superficial investigation because, hey, it’s only some slut’s word and you know how they are. And when the backlog was actually examined, more than 10% turned out to be serial offenders and who could have known that those sluts were telling the truth?

    Bare minimum 456 rapes that could have been prevented by cops actually doing their jobs. Probably a lot more.

    So bear that number — 456 out of 10,000 — in mind the next time you see stats on prosecutions vs. reported sexual assault.

  • Michael Heath
  • jws1

    This is an above-the-fold front-page story in today’s local fishwrapper, the Indianapolis Star. The article reads mostly, to me anyways, like a series of excuses as to why Indy has a 5,000 untested rape kit backlog.

  • colnago80

    Before getting carried away, it should be noted that the presence of DNA from a suspect in a rape kit does not ipso facto automatically mean a conviction. The DA still has to prove that the sexual encounter was non-consensual and that the evidence was properly handled, particularly relative to chain of custody. See Bryant vs Faber.

  • Alverant

    How did it get this way in the first place? Lack of funding? Lack of concern? Lack of some other resources?

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy

    Should get help from Supervisory Special Agent Irony over at FBI.

    Seriously, though I’m super glad to hear this is happening. King of makes you wonder how many Bill Cosby samples there are mouldering in various containers out there.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    How did it get this way in the first place?

    Can’t tell the rich and powerful from their jizz.

    Think, for – like, .02 sec.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1159674804 robertbaden

    Use of DNA can help avoid false convictions like that of the Central Park 5, or lead to exoneration of the falsely convicted.

    Got to wonder if that might explain some of the reluctance to rely on DNA testing.

  • Synfandel

    No need to be snarky, Marcus Ranum. Alverant’s questions are valid. Cynicism, no matter how witty, doesn’t adequately answer them.

  • Al Dente

    Why weren’t the rape kits tested? Because the cops and the district attorneys didn’t care.

  • colnago80

    Re Snyfandel @ #10

    Hey, ole Marcus is a snarky guy.