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

10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1. The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
 
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case. UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
 
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall. The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies. Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .