Bills Seek to Tackle Backlog of Untested Rape Kits

Feb 24, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — With possibly hundreds of thousands of rape kits untested across the country, Tennessee and several other states are proposing legislation to address backlogs that in at least one case dates back nearly three decades.

The New York-based Rape Kit Action Project says that there are more than 12,000 untested rape kits going back to the 1980s in Memphis alone. By contrast, there are about 16,000 untested kits collecting dust in police evidence rooms in the entire state of Texas.

State Senator Mark Norris of West Tennessee has proposed a law that would require all of the state’s law enforcement agencies to send rape kits to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for testing within ten days.

“I presented it in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and hope to have it on the floor of the senate this week. Really, no opposition; anyone would find it difficult to argue with, ‘Let’s quantify the problem so that we can figure ways to solve it.”

Norris says the TBI testing is provided free to local law enforcement, with each kit costing between $500 and $700 to process.