By Producer Laura Strickler and Emily Rand
A new report from the Department of Justice addresses the ongoing problem of what to do with untested rape kits in police departments across the country. According to the report, "The Road Ahead: Unanalyzed Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases", the total number of untested rape kits nationwide is still "unknown" but untested kits are "being discovered in police evidence rooms all across the country " such as 12,000 in Dallas and 10,000 in Detroit.
The report says tracking and counting rape kits "is an antiquated process in many US jurisdictions" citing a Department of Justice study that showed 43% of law enforcement agencies lack a computerized system to track evidence.
The DOJ report also provides new guidance to police departments who are grappling with thousands of kits. The authors urge police departments to adopt "systematic practices, procedures and protocols" that will prevent rape kits from languishing untested in storage. It suggests that departments may want to consider some kind of a triage system. One option is to test all rape kits from unsolved "stranger" cases first ---cases where the rapist was a complete stranger and not an acquaintance---before testing other rape kits.
In 2009, a CBS News investigation found thousands of untested rape kits across the country: 5,600 in Detroit. 3,800 in Houston. 5,100 in San Antonio, 1,100 in Albuquerque, and at least 12 major cities said they had no idea how many of rape kits in storage are untested.