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.