Untested Rape Kits in 27 States to Be Dusted Off
Feds, NYC providing $79M to clear backlog
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2015 4:44 AM CDT
Instructions sit next to pipettes at a station in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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(Newser) – The federal government has teamed up with the New York City DA's office to combat the only thing standing between many rapists and justice: a lack of money. There's a huge backlog of untested rape kits around the country—it could run into the hundreds of thousands—and the joint effort will provide $79 million to investigators in 27 states to test the evidence kits, the Hill reports. "When we solve these cases, we get rapists off the streets," said VP Joe Biden, who announced the move at a press conference at the NYC medical examiner's office yesterday. The grants "to reduce the national rape kit backlog will bring that sense of closure and safety to victims while improving community safety," he said.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch was also present at the announcement, as was Mariska Hargitay, who plays a sex crimes investigator in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and has founded the Joyful Heart Foundation to tackle the backlog, the Guardian reports. "To me, the backlog is one of the clearest and most shocking demonstrations of how we regard these crimes in this country," she said. "Testing rape kits sends a crucial and fundamental message that what happened to you matters, your case matters." (Old rape kits, some of them nearly 30 years old, were a jackpot for investigators in Houston.)