Defending the indefensible: CMPD "explains" rape kit backlog

There's more to this story than just numbers:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police on Wednesday said the number of victims adversely affected by untested rape kits is much lower than the foundation’s investigation showed. Of the approximately 1,000 untested kits, 650 are related to cases that are already closed, said CMPD Capt. Cecil Brisbon. Some of the remaining kits have been submitted and the remainder are “being reviewed to determine the need for analysis.”

Just because a case is "closed" it doesn't mean testing is no longer necessary. If a case is closed because the victim refused to press charges, it doesn't mean she wasn't raped, and it also doesn't mean her rapist hasn't done it before or will rape again in the future. And if the case ended in a conviction, processing the kit is doubly important. Getting that DNA data on file in the FBI's CODIS database is a critical link in the chain of evidence, because just like other terrorists, rapists thrive when information is not shared by law enforcement. Here are some more numbers for the CMPD to chew on:

Los Angeles County discovered untested kits in 2002, but didn’t start counting them until 2008. Over 12,000 were catalogued — the biggest backlog at the time — including 800 kits from cases in which the assailant was a stranger to the victim. In 2011, the city announced that it had zero untested rape kits. In the process, they found 753 matches in the FBI’s national DNA database.

In Cleveland, there have been 209 indictments since testing began in 2009, a third of which were for alleged serial rape. Detroit has only processed 2,000 of about 10,000 untested kits since taking stock of the backlog in 2009, but that fraction has already yielded 750 matches in Codis and 23 warrants, including 14 convictions. Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy also reported that 188 rapists identified through testing had committed crimes in other states.

Her finding highlights one of the terrifying consequences of such backlogs: Rapists who might have been caught and stopped had the kits been processed promptly went on to rape other victims.

If Char-Meck PD needs more money to get these kits tested, then that money needs to be found. It does no good to beautify your city or increase economic potential if you allow predators to roam the streets freely and ruin the lives of female citizens whenever they feel the urge.



Cases such as this show us

Cases such as this show us two things.

One, the amount of funds legislated to our crime labs needs to be higher. As we move into a more technically-oriented future, there will be more DNA testing, not less. We should go ahead and allocate funds to allow for more expeditious testing.

Second, women's issues still take a back seat to everything else.

It looks like Charlotte

got some DOJ grants to help them get rid of their backlog, but that money ran out in March of this year. It only funded a couple of positions and a few lab improvements, but without those grants...