Recently, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) published the latest Sexual Assault Kit Progress Report, and Attorney General Pam Bondi highlighted the report’s latest figures. According to the progress report, 3,663 previously unprocessed kits have been tested as part of Florida’s efforts to eliminate the backlog of unprocessed sexual assault kits. As of June 30, 2017, DNA from these kits have produced 843 CODIS hits.
CODIS is the Combined DNA Index System. CODIS blends forensic science and computer technology into a tool for linking crimes. It enables federal, state, and local forensic laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking crimes to each other and to known offenders. A CODIS hit occurs when DNA evidence is matched to a sample in the DNA system. Not all CODIS hits are actionable. An “actionable hit” is a match that provides new information to the investigation. For example, a hit to an offender who was already convicted in the associated case is not an “actionable hit.” In 2015, Attorney General Bondi brought together law enforcement, prosecutors, victims and state lawmakers to advocate for state funding to process Florida’s thousands of untested kits. During the 2016 legislative session, Attorney General Bondi helped pass legislation to provide an initial $2.3 million for testing and additional funding to raise the wages of lab analysts, purchase new forensic testing equipment and upgrade existing lab equipment. Additionally, as of July last year, Florida law requires all newly collected sexual assault kits to be processed by the laboratory within 120 days of receipt.
This latest progress report shows FDLE is on track to reach its goal of processing 8,600 kits by June 2019.