Lawmakers approve $1 million to continue testing backlogged rape kits
The Interim Finance Committee on Thursday approved a $1.17 million federal grant to continue testing the state’s backlog of sexual assault kits.
That backlog reached nearly 8,000 rape kits, some of them dating back to the 1980s.
Assistant Attorney General Wes Duncan told the committee a total of 1,514 kits have been shipped to the lab in Virginia for testing but he said with the large number of jurisdictions nationwide working to reduce the backlog, the few labs doing the tests are overloaded and limiting the number of kits states including Nevada can send at any one time.
IFC Chairwoman, Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said 6,171 kits haven’t been tested.
“My goal is to get that six thousand taken care of,” she said.
Assemblyman Chris Edwards, R-Las Vegas, questioned why the oldest kits, not the newest were being sent to labs first, arguing current cases have a greater chance of being prosecuted.
Duncan said current cases involving active prosecutions are being tested by Nevada’s labs.
“Local crime labs are able to run those tests,” Duncan said.
He said the issue with the backlog is the “sheer volume” of the test kits.
Duncan told the committee tests on 473 kits have been completed and 43 of them matched the DNA of someone already in the national database. He said eight of those individuals have already been arrested and are now facing sexual assault charges.
Duncan said Las Vegas Metro is where nearly all of those tested kits are from, that Washoe County’s lab has so far sent out probably less than 100 kits. But he said Washoe is ramping up its program.