Using its own experience with a rape-kit testing backlog as a model, New York will lead a $35 million program to help other cities and states tackle their own backlogs, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced Wednesday. A decade ago, New York caught up with a backlog of 17,000 untested rape kits, leading to dozens of criminal charges in unsolved cases.
Vance said the New York-led national initiative will be funded by civil forfeiture assets. The initiative is intended to assist cities like Memphis, which has a backlog of 11,000 untested rape kits, and Las Vegas, which estimates its backlog at 4,000. The program is to be run with the assistance of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a victims' advocacy organization that for the last several years has made clearing rape-kit backlogs a priority.