Virginia eliminated its rape kit backlog, attorney general says

“Virginia’s backlog of untested rape kits has been completely eliminated and it’s never coming back,” Herring said Wednesday at a press conference in Richmond, Virginia.

While DNA is helping solve increasingly more crimes, even those decades old, the backlog of unprocessed rape kits is certainly a problem nationwide. According to End the Backlog, an application of the national non-profit Joyful Heart Foundation, it’s estimated that we now have hundreds of thousands of these across the country.
A federal law passed late last year — the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act — is aimed at eliminating the backlog around the country by providing funding from the Justice Department to help local officials sort out their unprocessed kits.

Virginia is only the seventh state in the country to get rid of its rape kit backlog, according to Herring.

“It’s taken a lot of work but eliminating this backlog means that a wrong has been righted, that justice is closer for more survivors and that Virginia is a safer place,” Herring said.

Virginia’s investigators and forensic boffins tested 2,665 kits, uploaded 851 new DNA profiles to the national DNA database, and sent 354 matches to law enforcement agencies for further investigation, Herring said.

Charges are already pending against one man because of the project, and officials anticipate more charges could be filed in light of new evidence, the attorney general said.

The mandatory use of a physical evidence recovery kit (PERK) tracking system will ensure kits are submitted for testing in a timely manner moving forward, eliminating future backlogs, said Linda Jackson, director of the Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences.

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