Study: Pennsylvania Had Backlog of 1,850 Untested Rape Kits

HARRISBURG, PA. Pennsylvania police agencies had a backlog of just over 1,850 untested rape kits at the end of last year, according to the first statewide study under a 2015 law that revamped procedures for handling sexual assault evidence and aimed to qualify the state for federal funding.

“This report is an important step forward in Pennsylvania’s efforts to bring more transparency and awareness to serious issues like sexual assault,” said Health Department spokesman Wes Culp, whose agency published the data. He said the report will help “ensure that those kits are tested in a timely manner.”

The numbers are much smaller than have been reported recently in some other parts of the country, amid fresh efforts to cut the backlog and prosecute offenders.

The study’s largest backlog, by far, was in Philadelphia, where the police department’s forensic services office had nearly 1,300 kits that needed to be tested. A city police spokeswoman did not offer an immediate comment.

AMENDMENT OF THE ACT OF NOVEMBER 29, 2006 (P.L.1471, No.165)
In July 2015, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that requires law enforcement to collect sexual assault kits from the health care provider within 72 hours of receiving notice and to submit that evidence to a laboratory within 15 days of receiving the kit. The bill also mandates that the lab is to complete testing within six months from date of the receipt, and requires a report on untested backlogs within 6 months.
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