405-778-4800
Criminal Attorney Oklahoma Defense Lawyer Adam R. Banner OKLAHOMA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AT LAW

Private Citizens Finding Solutions to Rape Kit Backlog Problem

09-Nov-2015

Last month, we published an article in the Huffington Post detailing a serious backlog in rape kit testing. In some cases, women have waited more than a decade for their rape kit to be tested. In other cases, the kit that could convict their rapist was never tested at all. 

The article detailed how the District Attorney's Office in Manhattan and the United States Justice Department pledged nearly $80 million to try to ease the backlog, giving the money to 43 law enforcement agencies in 27 states. It's a nice start, but it falls far short of what is needed. After all, there are more than 18,000 police departments in the United States. This funding will apply to only a tiny fraction of those agencies. And at last count, there were 50 states in the U.S., not 27. 

There are at least 70,000 untested rape kits in 1,000 law enforcement offices around the nation. If the rates hold true for the remaining 17,000 police departments, there could be more than 1.2 million untested rape kits--warehoused, forgotten, and containing the evidence to convict the guilty, exonerate the innocent, and give justice to the victims.

Because the current funding is insufficient to combat the inconceivable rape kit backlog, private citizens are taking the matter into their own hands. 

A group of businesswomen in Detroit (where more than 10,000 forgotten rape kits were discovered abandoned for up to 30 years in a warehouse) is teaming up to fund rape kit testing. 

When the 11,341 rape kits were discovered, the head of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office vowed to test them all; however, funding was an issue. At a cost of more than $1,100 each, it would require more than $17 million to test them all. Eventually, the office received $4 million from the state, and the prosecutor's office was able to negotiate a reduced price for testing. Still, more than 1100 old kits remained, and new cases were piling up, making the task of catching up seem impossible.

A local businesswoman read about the rape kit backlog and knew that the resources were available to test these kits--people just needed to know about the problem and work for a solution. Joanna Cline, chief marketing officer for Fathead, contacted 200 Detroit business leaders. These businesses began working together to raise money and their efforts launched a public-private initiative called Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit), a joint effort of the Michigan Women's Foundation, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, and the Detroit Crime Commission. 

The group has raised $1.3 million from private donors and has received $7.6 million in public funding. As a result, the county has secured 27 convictions and identified 652 suspected serial rapists. There are nearly 200 cases under investigation and nearly 1600 more awaiting investigation.

This is a remarkable effort by private citizens who find the rape kit backlog to be a grave injustice, but there are critics. After all, private citizens already pay taxes; theoretically, we are already funding these issues. Should it fall on private citizens and business owners to "address a criminal justice crisis?"

Well, no. It shouldn't have to be that way--but justice matters, and it takes dedicated people fighting for what they believe is right to make a difference. 



All News

More News

Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Denies Death Penalty Protocol "Deadline"

13-Aug-2018

Oklahoma, the state that invented lethal injection, continues to b..

Lincoln County Abuse Case Has Some Calling for Home School Reform

28-Jul-2018

The case of a 15-year-old boy rescued from a family farm near Meek..

Oklahoma Health Department Seeks Legal Advice after Amending Medical Marijuana Rules

17-Jul-2018

When Oklahomans passed State Question 788 last month, they left th..

No Special Session Necessary after Passage of Medical Marijuana in SQ 788

30-Jun-2018

Just a week and a half after announcing that a special session of ..

New Oklahoma Liquor Laws to Take Effect in October

14-Jun-2018

It's summertime in Oklahoma. The temperatures are soaring and peop..

Charges Dismissed After Linebacker's Ex-Girlfriend Admits to Lying About Abuse

23-May-2018

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster will be able to rejoi..

Oklahoma Man Convicted of Cyberstalking in Federal Court

02-May-2018

A 46-year old Crescent man was convicted in federal court last wee..

Oklahoma Legislators Continue to Eye Criminal Justice Reform

22-Apr-2018

With Oklahoma prisons overcrowded, and with the state at the top o..

Oklahoma Soon to Lead the Nation in Incarceration Rate

02-Apr-2018

As Oklahoma teachers descend upon the state Capitol this week to p..

Domestic Call Ends in Multiple Charges for Man Accused in Standoff

19-Mar-2018

Nicoma Park police and Oklahoma County sheriff's deputies respondi..

×