Over the past decade, Congress has approved enough money to reduce the nation’s backlog of DNA evidence testing to have tested more than 1 million sexual assault evidence kits. So far, says USA Today, the vast majority of the money is not reaching local and state police authorities where the abandoned rape evidence could be tested. Scott Berkowitz of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network said the issue is not the amount of the funding, but the fact that it isn’t reaching its intended target. “There’s ample money there,” he said. “But to date, only about 51 percent of that has gone towards casework and making sure labs have the capacity to do the testing.”
The $1.2 billion allocated to addressing the nation’s DNA testing needs, including taking inventory and testing sexual assault kits, has often been spent on more general DNA testing improvements. Some of the funding has gone toward administrative expenses or been siphoned off for apparently unrelated purposes. A 2012 congressional report found some funds for rape kit testing was going to polling firms and toward the purchase of cellphone equipment and payments to “entities of uncertain mission that employ heads of influential forensics policy advisory groups.” Gerald LaPorte of the National Institute of Justice blamed the agency’s failure to issue grants on a lack of devoted funding to implement the law. Congress passed a “SAFER Act” that required the Justice Department to issue protocols for processing DNA evidence by last summer. NIJ says it might happen by the end of 2016.