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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.

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