Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

October-22-08

Huge Backlog of Rape-Kit Analyses Hinders Justice

The draft of an audit report from the Los Angeles city controller's office has revealed disturbing statistics about the handling of sexual assault investigations by the city's police department.

As of September 4, 2008, the city had a backlog of 7,038 "rape kits" waiting in freezers for analysis, according to the audit. Rape kits contain the physical evidence collected after sexual assaults, often including DNA from the alleged perpetrators. At least 217 of those untested kits have now passed the statute of limitations for prosecution of the crimes, and are therefore useless.

The backlog on rape kits is not unique to Los Angeles, and 2004 federal legislation advocated by the Feminist Majority and other women's rights groups, renewed this year, addressed the problem by authorizing funding for local police departments to catch up on DNA analyses. L.A.'s crime lab was awarded nearly $4 million, but lost nearly $500,000 of that due to lax oversight. And the backlog has worsened.

"It is beyond disturbing that the thousands of victims who have undergone the invasive ordeal of these 4-6 hour tests do not even know that their evidence is still untested," wrote L.A. city controller Laura Chick in a cover letter to the audit. "Timely testing of rape kits is essential in identifying and convicting perpetrators who are frequently repeat offenders." She also pointed out that New York City had a backlog of 17,000 rape kits in the 1990s, but cleared them up in just three years by finding "both the political will and the dollars."

Los Angeles police chief William Bratton says he has set up a task force to examine the city's Scientific Investigation Division, which oversees the DNA lab, according to the Los Angeles Times. He also said the department needs more staffing and an additional $7 million to catch up on the backlog.

Media Resources: Los Angeles Controller's Office Audit; LA Times 10/21/08


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

1/27/2016 Study Exposes 'Gender Gap' in Media Coverage of Reproductive Issues - A new study by the Women's Media Center has revealed more than half of news stories focusing on reproductive issues are written by men. According to WMC Media Watch: the Gender Gap in Coverage of Reproductive Issues, men penned 52 percent of bylines discussing issues of reproductive health care - including contraception and abortion - compared to just 37 percent by women. . . .
 
1/27/2016 Taiwan Elects First Woman President - In a landslide victory, the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen won the country's presidential election, becoming the first woman in Taiwan's history to hold the position. Emphasizing her party's commitment to maintaining Taiwan's independence from China, Tsai won over young voters eager to usher in a political changing of the guard following some 70 years of dominance by the pro-Chinese unification party, the Kuomintang (KMT), chaired by presidential opponent Eric Chu. . . .
 
1/26/2016 Anti-Abortion Extremists Behind Planned Parenthood Attack Videos Indicted - Two anti-abortion extremists responsible for last year's misleading videos attacking Planned Parenthood have been indicted on criminal charges by a grand jury in Houston, Texas. On Monday, Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson announced that David Daleiden, the director of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) - the group behind deceptive videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal tissue - was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and on a misdemeanor charge related to the purchasing of human organs. . . .