Florida has backlog of 13,000-plus untested rape kits

FOX 35 News at 5 p.m.

- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has completed a study on how many untested rape kits are sitting in crime labs and police evidence rooms and what to do about them.  The study found there approximately 13,435 untested rape kits, and 9,484 should be submitted for testing. State Representative Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, says they need to find out which of those must be tested.

"We need to find out what the real number is and fund to meet the needs."

There are a host of reasons why rape kits would not be tested, such as the State Attorney declining to prosecute. Brodeur says not all 13 thousand should be tested.

"In many cases these claims have already gone to a plea bargain. In many cases the victim has decided not to prosecute, and there may be some other extenuating circumstances that only our prosecutors or law enforcement are aware of."

The FDLE is providing several options to test them that range between 8 and 32 million dollars. Brodeur says he believes the Legislature will come up with some testing money, but the victims have to compete with others in dire straits in a year with a lot of budget demands.

"Sometimes that means folks that are on our wait list at the Persons With Disabilities, and sometimes that means victims of crimes that need to be prosecuted. We need to figure out a way to protect our most vulnerable."

Brodeur seemed to favor the 8 million dollar FDLE plan that calls for outsourcing much of the testing, and adding overtime for existing crime lab tests to get those kits tested in the shortest amount of time. The FDLE estimates 3 years.

"There are more than one way to skin a cat in this regard besides state funding. Federal funding and sometimes grants from other states."

Tests done in other states have resulted in hundreds of DNA matches and subsequent convictions.

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