Among many other states, Kentucky and North Carolina have placed themselves in the spotlight for failing to handle examinations in rape cases. More than 3,000 rape kits were never tested in Kentucky, and 333 rape kits were destroyed in North Carolina to make room for evidence. DNA from rape kits can be used to determine suspects, strengthen criminal cases or clear those who were falsely accused.
North Carolina’s destroyed kits were accumulated between the years 1995 and 2008. According to Billy West, North Carolina’s Cumberland County prosecutor, no one within the police department will face any charges for destroying the kits.
By some estimates, there are at least 400,000 rape kits still sitting untested in labs around the United States. An investment of $41 million by the federal government was sanctioned to help minimize the amount of kits that go untested.
In Kentucky, the average time allowed to analyze a kit is eight months and is only rising. “This is unacceptable,” Edelen said. “Far too many rapists are walking the streets while the evidence needed to put them behind bars is collecting dust.”
Recently, apprehensions about how seriously rape kits have been handled have surfaced. In an article published by USA Today in July, it was reported that there were tens of thousands of rape kits that remain untested in states such as Indiana, California, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Many of the law enforcement agencies have never counted or kept inventory of the rape kits in their evidence rooms.
“[…] It’s important for a moment to get beyond just the number, and to understand that these really do represent the most fragile of human lives,” Edelen said in an interview with CNN.
Information for this article was taken from cnn.com and usatoday.com.