A combined $79 million in grants from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Justice Department will provide funds to more than 40 law enforcement jurisdictions to pay for crime-lab processing of 70,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits, expediting a process that could help identify perpetrators of sex crimes, reports USA Today. The DA’s contribution of $38 million, taken in civil forfeiture from international banks in New York, will fund rape-kit testing in 32 jurisdictions, including police departments in Tallahassee, Fla., Riverside, Calif., and Flint, Mich., as well as statewide law enforcement agencies in Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin and California.
While testing the kits has proven to be effective in helping identify perpetrators through DNA matching in some sexual assault cases, at least 70,000 sexual assault kits remain untested in law enforcement evidence rooms across the country. While some law enforcement agencies test every sexual assault kit booked into evidence, others test as few as two in 10 due to inconsistent laws and policies between jurisdictions, and the lack of national protocols for handling the evidence. Testing costs approximately $1,000 per kit.