The AP has a long story today about the long overdue “trend” of cities finally testing their backlog of rape kits. It outlines the “dramatic shift is taking hold across the country” by both police and prosecutors to process the thousands of rape kits sitting in storage across the country.
In Cleveland, the county prosecutor’s office has indicted more than 300 rape suspects since 2013, based on newly tested DNA evidence from old kits. Authorities expect to eventually charge 1,000.
In Houston, authorities recently cleared a backlog of nearly 6,700 kits that included cases dating back to the 1980s. The project, which cost about $6 million, turned up 850 matches in a national DNA database.
There have also been pushes in San Francisco, New Orleans, Memphis and New York.
The sudden urge to test the kits comes largely from money, the federal government recently provided $76 million to complete testing and prosecution. But there’s also been pressure from high-profile advocacy groups and victims who have spoken out about the backlog.
Most disturbingly is that the testing has revealed multiple repeat offenders:
In Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, about 30 percent of cases that have developed from testing so far are serial rape suspects. One of them, Robert Green, assaulted seven women over nearly a decade as evidence went unprocessed. He pleaded guilty last fall and was sentenced to up to 135 years in prison.
In Wayne County, home to Detroit, authorities say 288 potential serial rapists have been found among the kits tested. Among the cases to surface is Reginald Holland, who raped a woman in 2005. His identity wasn’t known then. Three years later, Holland’s DNA was entered in a national database on an unrelated case. By the time his first victim’s sexual assault kit was tested in 2012, he’d assaulted four more women. In 2014, he was sentenced to life in prison.
It’s worth reading the entire story, it outlines the ugly mix of police practices and lack of funding that led up to the backlog, as well as the toll that such policies have taken on victims.
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