New York City and Los Angeles are the only two major U.S. cities to have cleared their rape kit backlog entirely, reports Vocativ in Scientific American. Natasha Alexenko heads The Natasha Justice Project, one of the foundations lobbying for the testing of the thousands of old rape kits scattered throughout the nation. There is no definitive number of untested kits; estimates range from 100,000 to 400,000 nationwide. End The Backlog, a project launched by non-profit Joyful Heart Foundation, says some places have tens of thousands of kits.
Memphis is testing its way through 12,347 kits. Detroit found 11,341 unprocessed kits in a storage facility in 2009. Houston and Las Vegas are tackling backlogs of 6,663 and 4,385 rape kits, respectively. And there are dozens of other cities with counts in the hundreds and thousands, and many more that don't even know if they are sitting on massive piles of untested evidence. When rape kits so untested, rapists go free. “It is just such an ignored crisis,” says Alexenko. “I feel like not enough people in this country are aware of it, and the grave danger we put ourselves in when we are not utilizing this amazing investigative tool.”