Rape Kits Having a Hard Time Getting Out of a Detroit Evidence Room

Illustration for article titled Rape Kits Having a Hard Time Getting Out of a Detroit Evidence Room

Now that the Rube Goldberg machinery of justice has started creaking back to life, law enforcement officials in Detroit have a chance at processing more than 11,000 untouched rape kits that have languished in a police evidence room for years. However, apart from the fact that belatedly broaching the subject of rape with a victim who may have long ago made an effort to move on and would rather not revisit a traumatic event, the effort to analyze these forgotten kits has run up against a more intractable barrier: lack of funds.


NPR's All Things Considered learned from Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy, the woman leading the charge to sort through Detroit's untested rape kits, that a lack of funding has prevented law enforcement officials from processing the kits. Speaking of the responsibility officials have to address the kits, Worthy said,

I don't know if they were just forgotten, I don't know if they were ignored, I don't know if they were deliberately put there, I don't know any of that. All I know is that they were there and that we had to do something about it.

Though she's already arranged for a federal grant of one million dollars, Worthy explains that the money only covers the cost of sorting the rape kits and setting up a police database. She estimates that processing all of the kits would cost an additional $15 million. "If we had the funding," says Worthy, "to examine and have all of these rape kits tested, we would do that. But right now ... we have to categorize and prioritize the cases that we are looking at first." A disheartening two of these cases have been set for trial, and lack a of resources coupled with the aversion many rape victims have of exhuming a crime that police couldn't be bothered to follow through with in the first place seems to limit the odds that even significant minority of these cases will ever receive the proper attention they deserve.

Untouched, Thousands of Rape Kits Await Justice [NPR]


Isn't there already a federal DNA database — CODIS? I'm puzzled by what she means when she says that $1 mil only covers the cost of sorting rape kits and setting up a database. How do you sort rape kits? From most violent to least violent? Alphabetical order? Chronological order?