According to a report released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on Monday, Jan. 4, the state of Florida has a backlog of over 13,435 rape kits that have not been tested or submitted for processing.
Although forensic evidence was collected from possible rape victims, testing has not been done in order to match DNA evidence with potential suspects, according to The Associated Press. These backlogs were found between August and December of 2015.
Clearing away this backlog could cost the state $8.1 million in a course of several years.
The FDLE found that, out of the 13,435 untested kits, 9,484 should have been submitted. The FDLE highly recommends that all kits be tested “in the interest of public safety.”
The plan, presented to the Legislature by FDLE, would include outsourcing and paying trained analyst overtime to increase work hours so the necessary testing can be done.
Government officials are working to solve this issue and Gov. Rick Scott announced that he will seek $8.5 million to work through the backlog. State Attorney General Pam Bondi also stated in a press release that she has requested funds in order to hire more lab analysts to test the kits.
“In the coming weeks, months and years, I will continue to work with law enforcement officers, state lawmakers and victims’ advocates to not only test these unprocessed kits, but to find better ways to ensure our state has the lab capacity and resources needed to keep up with the demand for forensic testing,” said Bondi. “We cannot put a price tag on public safety. We need to support FDLE in its efforts to make Florida the safest state in the country.”
However, taking care of the backlog is going to be tedious work for the state of Florida, as it will take three to nine years and cost approximately $9 million to $32 million to manage it all, according to the report.
In 41 percent of untested kits, the primary reason that the kits were left untested was because victims proceeded not to go through with the investigation, according to the FDLE report. In 31 percent of cases, the state attorney’s office chose not to pursue the case. Other reasons included a suspect’s guilty plea, a victim’s death or a victim’s decline of a police report.
Testing these untested kits relies on “additional funding for outsourcing, technology, overtime and a stabilized workforce of crime laboratory analysts.”
In total, according to FDLE, there were an estimated total of 4,290 sexual assault cases in the U.S. in 2015.