Report says more funding needed to cut into rape kit backlog

Pennsylvania government auditors say it will take significant new funding to cut into the state’s backlog of untested rape kits and are recommending penalties for police agencies that don’t meet testing and reporting standards contained in a law that was enacted last year.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on Wednesday released a report prompted by the state Health Department’s disclosure in May that there were more than 1,850 rape kits in Pennsylvania that had gone more than a year without being tested.

“There is a protocol in place that’s supposed to be followed. But again, that’s supposed to be followed and it’s not,” said Allison Hall with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.

DePasquale said this is a problem that it having an impact on Allegheny County, where there is only nine people to process evidence from more than 130 agencies.

“We want perpetrators caught. At this juncture, you would think that we could get it together in the second largest county in Pennsylvania and find a way to make this work,” said Hall.

Last year, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner received s $250,000 grant to test backlogged rape kits. A spokesperson said 72 untested kits remain – all from 2016.

Hall said she is happy to see this progress, but won’t be satisfied until all rape kits are tested statewide.

“Most of the time, offenders don’t assault someone once. There’s multiple victims and if they test those kits, the odds are they’re going to find that person,” said Hall.

The new report recommends that the state provide funding to add sufficient people and equipment to end the backlog and ensure that new kits are tested within six months.

It also suggests that the state explore possible penalties against police departments that don’t follow the rape kit testing law.

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