Houston to Spend $4.4 Million, Eliminate Backlog of 6,600 Rape Kits


Houston’s long-standing backlog of more than 6,600 rape kits will be eliminated within 14 months after City Council’s unanimous approval of a $4.4 million plan to outsource the testing to private labs, the Houston Chronicle reports. The vote will enable the city to ship those 6,663 kits, 1,450 kits tied to active cases, and 1,020 samples of DNA evidence from other cases, such as robberies and property crimes, to labs in Utah and Virginia. The city negotiated bulk pricing on the deal, dropping the average per-kit cost to $400, which officials said is roughly a third of the typical price. “It needed to be done,” Mayor Annise Parker said. “I’m satisfied we have a cost-effective solution, but also the right solution for everybody who’s been involved in this process, both the survivors of rape, but also those who may be, if there are any, incarcerated wrongly.” The effort is a milestone for the city’s embattled crime lab, which was closed temporarily in 2002 after an audit cited unqualified personnel, lax protocols and shoddy facilities, including a roof that leaked rainwater onto evidence. The city has spent untold cash and staff time grappling with the backlog, including $2.1 million in federal money in 2010 and 2011.

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