ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - More than 3,600 rape kits that were once backlogged and untested have now been tested, according to new numbers by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
Officials said Tuesday that of the kits that have been tested, there were nearly 850 hits in a federal DNA database.
Before 2016, Florida had not required rape kits to be tested. Since the law passed, law enforcement agencies must submit evidence within 30 days of the beginning of the investigation, and sexual-assault kits must be processed by the lab within 120 days of receipt.
“There are all sorts of reasons why kits were not previously submitted. Either a case was already solved, there was a confession, or charges were dropped. Regardless of those reasons, kits have been submitted now. They will be tested. Hits have been produced. We are confident and hopeful that they will solve cases,” said Whitney Ray, a spokesperson with the Attorney General’s Office.
There were 8,600 kits sitting untested in evidence storage across the state two years ago. Now there are fewer than 4,900 kits.
The attorney general’s office said it secured extra funding to help process the kits.
“Building space has been an issue in the past. Capacity, also keeping, retaining qualified lab experts and having enough of them to meet the challenge of a thousand, ah, thousands of extra kits actually,” Ray said.
FDLE is on track to reach its goal of processing all 8,600 backlogged kits by June, 2019.
News Service Florida contributed to this story.
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