ABC15 Arizona

DPS making ground in processing decades of statewide backlogged rape kits

By Cameron Polom | January 24, 2019

It was an overwhelming backlog of justice, thousands of unprocessed rape kits spending years on the shelf, but a renewed focus to get them done now is providing answers to years of questions.

“The victims or survivors out there that’s the whole reason we’re doing this is to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to investigate their cases,” said Department of Public Safety Crime Lab Manager Stephen Butler.

Since June of 2016, the state crime lab has been in high gear to process more than 7,000 rape kits.

In 2017, state lawmakers passed a bill requiring all kits to be tested statewide.

“We were forced to address kits that had been collected potentially twenty years ago up to just a few years ago,” said Butler.

With justice on hold for so many, the state and the federal government stepped in providing more than six million dollars to fund a ramped up effort to process the kits containing DNA swabs, clothing, hair samples, and other evidence collected from sexual assault survivors.

The state of Arizona is currently rolling out a system called Track-Kit, which will basically track every single kit from the moment its collected at a health care facility, through law enforcement, to the crime laboratory,” said Butler.

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