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Congress poised to approve $41 million to help clear backlog of untested rape kits

June 16, 2014
The Washington Post
Spencer S. Hsu

Congress is poised to approve $41 million sought by the Obama administration to examine untested DNA evidence collected from rape victims and held by state and local police across the country.

No firm count exists, but recent discoveries in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and Detroit suggest that the nationwide total of untested kits never sent to laboratories and kept in police storage exceeds 100,000 — some of them held for decades. Victims usually are unaware that their kits have not been tested, and members of both parties have called the backlogs a national scandal.

On Tuesday, the full Senate is set to take up the funding as part of a $51.2 billion 2015 budget bill for the Justice Department and other agencies that is expected to win floor approval. The House voted May 30 for a budget bill with the funding.

“Whether sexual-assault kits are sitting in crime labs or police lockers, victims deserve to know they haven’t been forgotten,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.). “The evidence needs to be processed, the case investigated, the criminals brought to justice, and victims provided the services they need.”


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