New Rape Kit Processing Rules Proposed in Detroit Rape Kit Scandal
"DETROIT, MI -- The 2009 tour of a Detroit Police Department evidence facility revealed a huge problem, 11,303 untested rape kits collecting dust.
State Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) on Tuesday proposed the Sexual Assault Kit Evidence Submission Act that would [']ensure that evidence collection kits in sexual assault cases are handled properly and processed in a timely manner,['] a statement issued by his office on Wednesday says.
[']Such a small percentage of sexual assaults are even reported, and those victims that are brave enough to report the crime and have the sexual assault evidence kit collected deserve to know that their case is being taken seriously and the system is doing everything possible to bring their attacker to justice,[']Johnson said in the prepared statement. [']There is a need to investigate and improve upon the way we handle these cases as a state, from the very beginning when the kit is taken, to the very end, when prosecution of the alleged crime takes place.[']
Requirements of the proposed law:
- Sexual assault victim must provide written authorization to the healthcare facility that collected the kit in order for it to be transferred to a law enforcement agency.
- If the victim does not provide written authorization, the healthcare provider must provide written explanation of their storage and disposal policies.
- If victim authorizes transfer of the kit, police have 14 days to collect the evidence or notify the proper jurisdiction, assuming it is not theirs.
- Once collected by law enforcement, they have 14 days to transfer the kit to a laboratory for analysis.
- Kits must be assigned an accompanying criminal complaint number.
- Victims must be notified of a department's intent to destroy a kit or its evidence 60 days prior.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's office, working with state police, helped develop the proposed law that Johnson said would make Michigan a [']trailblazer['] of human rights.
Wayne County has analyzed nearly 2,000 of the 11,300-plus kits over the last half-decade.
Of those tested, DNA identified 100 serial rapists, meaning the DNA appeared in at least two kits or were tied to suspects in other cases, Worthy said in March. At the time, testing had been completed on about 1,600 kits. Fifty-nine percent of the DNA tested matched DNA submitted to the national database (CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System), leading to 14 prosecutions.
The kits are being sent to private labs at a cost of $1,200 to $1,500 per kit, which equates to a total cost of more than $13.5 million to test all 11,303.
The state Legislature has approved a $4 million grant for testing costs.
No one has personally been held accountable for the negligence that resulted in the huge backlog."