PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In the state of Pennsylvania, 1,200 backlogged rape kits have been awaiting testing for at least 12 months or more.
State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is asking Gov. Tom Wolf for $1.2 million to eliminate this backlog so victims can have the justice they deserve.
“It’s 1,200 cases. Let’s be done with this. Let’s do that so victims know that going through the forensic exam meant something,” said Alison Hall, with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.
It will cost an average of $1,000 to test each rape kit. The commonwealth’s three major crime labs, including Allegheny County’s Office of the Medical Examiner, have aggressively sought federal funds to help test the backlog of kits.
However, DePasquale said it will take years to resolve the backlog relying just on federal grants. This is why Hall says now is the time with Gov. Wolf presenting his 2018-19 budget.
“I think if anything, what’s been in the news lately can really illustrate how the numbers of people affected by sexual violence,” said Hall.
Hall said taking care of this backlog will give victims of rape the peace of mind they deserve.
“For it to be beyond your control that your rape kit is not processed, it’s frustrating not only for victims. It can also prevent other victims from coming forward and going through a forensic exam,” said Hall.
The good news is that the 1,200 estimate reflects a decrease in backlogged kits, from roughly 1,900 in 2016. That means almost 700 people received answers in the last year about whether evidence contained in their kits could help them achieve justice.