The Houston Chronicle revealed this week that based on 6,600 rape kits from the 1980s to today, there are 850 hits in the FBI’s nationwide database of DNA profiles, marking a major step in the city’s $6 million effort to address the backlog, officials announced Monday. There are 29 new charges against sexual predators filed because of the backlog. The kits hadn’t been look at since 2013 and were finally used for investigation purposes when a $4.4 million funded lab was approved for the kits to be processed in.
It’s a delayed, but an imperative step forward in finding and arresting the correct individuals perpetuating sexual assaults and rapes, though officials have admitted some hazy areas. Due to lost time, some of the kits are roughly thirty-years old. Out of the 29 cases, six are allegedly rapists since their genetic coding was already in the index for other crimes.
Still, cops and scientists in the area are determined to get through the backlog and bring justice to these incidents. As Annise Parker told the Houston Chronicle, “It is significant that the city of Houston is among the first cities in the country to completely eliminate its backlog of untested sexual assault kits.”
District Attorney Devon Anderson added, “[These assaults did] happen unfortunately. We are eagerly looking forward to prosecuting those rapists, those repeat rapists.”
With news of this development coming out, more cities and towns should follow Houston’s lead. Kits going years without analyzing is not uncommon as Mic reported that Los Angeles, Detroit, Memphis along other U.S. cities currently have the same issues of backlogging. Mic obtained a statistic from RAINN‘s (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) Vice President Rebecca O’Connor that this unearthing has occurred because the kits “[were not] analyzed due to a policy decision and [others were] misplaced or otherwise unintentionally forgotten.” That may be true, but because they numbers of are so huge, the campaign End the Backlog was initiated with the Joyful Heart Foundation. Law & Order actress Mariska Hargitay is one of its founders.
It may feel as if wounds are re-opened with the kits just now being looked through, but Houston just wants to do the right thing and we rather all American cities start now than wait another thirty years to start digging. This is a huge move in support of women who are victims of rape.