Many crime labs across the US cannot process the kits in a timely manner because they are swamped by heavy case loads and dwindling funds. Kits may sit on the shelves for years. High profile cases are more likely to move kits to the front of the line.
Over the past year, critics had exposed a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits in Illinois.
Other states are confronted with the same problems that Illinois faces. Recently an article in Women’s e news.org revealed that Los Angeles, CA has the largest repository of untested rape kits.
New York eliminated its rape kit backlog in 2003 when city officials created a policy that every rape kit would be sent to the laboratory for DNA testing, and the lab built up its DNA testing capacity so that every rape kit would be tested within 60 days.
This was good back then until recently when funding was completely eliminated for the New York Alliance Against Sexual Assault. In 2009 CBC news with Katie Couric featured a segment about the failure of law enforcement to test forensic evidence kits often due to lack of resources or a belief that the case cannot be successfully prosecuted. This begs the question of just how many sexual assault cases could be solved by more DNA testing and how many sexual assaults might be prevented. A recent article entitled “Beyond the Cold Hits: measuring the Impact of the National DNA Data Bank on Public Safety at the City and County Level (M. Gabriel, C. Boland, C. Holt, “Beyond the Cold Hits: measuring the Impact of the National DNA Data Bank on Public Safety at the City and County Level ” The Journal of Law, Medicine adn Ethics, Summer, 2010) provides a partial answer to that question.