Increased Testing of Old Rape Kits Starting to Lead to more Arrests and Convictions

Tuesday, January 06, 2015
A rape kit being tested (photo: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Progress is being made in processing tens of thousands of rape kits collecting dust in police warehouses across the United States, producing thousands of leads that are resulting in arrests and conviction of perpetrators of sexual assaults.


A few years ago, Detroit was a poster child for the problem of unprocessed kits, with more than 11,000 of them as of 2009. To date, the struggling Michigan city has managed to process 2,000 kits, thanks to funding from the National Institute of Justice. Another 8,000 await being sent to a forensics laboratory.


The 2,000 that were processed turned up 750 DNA matches, leading to nearly two dozen warrants and 14 convictions for Wayne County, where Detroit resides. Detroit’s efforts also found 188 serial rapists responsible for crimes in 27 other states, according to the BBC News.


Cleveland managed to get through its backlog of 4,300 kits, which generated 1,800 new cases and 231 indictments so far.


Memphis had a backlog even larger than Detroit’s (12,000 kits), and has opened 243 investigations. Thirty-six people have been indicted.


In Houston, 6,600 kits have been tested which has so far led to more than 50 arrests.


There is still an enormous number of kits to be processed nationwide—about 400,000, according to the Associated Press. The Obama administration has been urging funding to address the problem and, in fact, $41 million was included in the recent $1.1 trillion spending bill to do just that. Additionally, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. has promised that $35 million will be earmarked for rape kit testing across the country.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

New Hope For Rape Kit Testing Advocates (by Taylor Kate Brown, BBC News)

Money To Address Rape Kit Backlog In Congressional Spending Bill (by Alison Vingiano, BuzzFeed)

Announcing the Accountability Project (End the Backlog)

14-Year-Old Rape Kit, Finally Tested, Leads to Arrest of Ex-Cop (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

10-Year Backlog of 12,000 Untested Rape Kits in Memphis May Have Resulted in More Rapes (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Leave a comment