State: Florida has backlog of 13,000-plus untested rape kits

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Thousands Of U.S. Rape Kits Untested

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida has a backlog of more than 13,000 rape kits that have not been tested or submitted for processing, and managing them could cost the state tens of millions of dollars and take several years, according to a report released Monday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted the $300,000 study on the number of untested kits and will present its findings to the Legislature.

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Backlogs of untested rape kits have been an issue across the U.S. In September, federal officials said an estimated 70,000 rape kits sitting in laboratories and evidence collection rooms across the country would be tested with a combined $79 million in federal and New York City funds.

Of the 13,345 rape kits in Florida that have gone untested, authorities said in Monday's report that 9,484 should have been submitted. The FDLE recommends testing all kits "in the interest of public safety."

More on the testing of rape kits:

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State: Florida has backlog of 13,000-plus untested rape kits
A sexual assault evidence kit is logged in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston on Thursday, April 2, 2015. The new attention to sexual assault kits stems from a combination of factors: the persistence of advocacy groups, investigative media reports, the willingness of rape survivors to speak out and political support from statehouses up to the White House. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Instructions sit next to pipettes at a station in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston on Thursday, April 2, 2015. Before DNA, rape kits could be tested for blood group typing, but that was nowhere as definitive and the evidence could broadly exclude or include a suspect _ if one had been identified. DNA proved to be a turning point, but Houston Assistant Police Chief Mary Lentschke notes that police still faced two big obstacles: a shortage of both money and crime lab staff. It has cost $500 to $1,500 to test and analyze each kit. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Forensic analyst India Henry examines cotton swabs from a sexual assault evidence kit in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston on Thursday, April 2, 2015. A dramatic shift is taking hold across the country as police and prosecutors scramble to process these kits and use DNA matches to track down sexual predators, many of whom attacked more women while evidence of their crimes languished in storage. Lawmakers, meanwhile, are proposing reforms to ensure this doesn't happen again. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy speaks during an interview about rape kits in Detroit on Monday, April 20, 2015. On the the backlog of rape kit testing, she says, "It shows that we, as this country, do not respect rape victims to the extent that we respect other victims." (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy looks at documents in Detroit on Monday, April 20, 2015. Her office is working with the Michigan Women's Foundation and the Detroit Crime Commission to raise money to complete the backlog of rape kit testing and investigation and bring suspects to trial. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Vials of evidence in a sexual assault case are labeled and sorted in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston on Thursday, April 2, 2015. In some cases, it's simply too late for justice because statutes of limitations have expired. In others, investigators may have to wade through old, often incomplete, police files, search for witnesses and suspects, confront fading memories and persuade survivors to reopen painful chapters of their lives. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Forensic analyst Karen Gincoo checks a tray of evidence vials from rape kits in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston on Thursday, April 2, 2015. In Houston, authorities recently cleared a backlog of nearly 6,700 kits that included cases dating back to the 1980s. The project, which cost about $6 million, turned up 850 matches in a national DNA database. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
This Thursday, April 2, 2015 photo shows an evidence bag from a sexual assault case in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston. Legislators in more than 20 states are considering _ and in some cases, passing _ laws that include auditing all kits and deadlines for submitting and processing DNA evidence. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Vials of evidence from rape kits are labeled and sorted for testing in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston on Thursday, April 2, 2015. In resurrecting old crimes, investigators have detected an alarming pattern: Many rapists are repeat offenders. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
ADVANCE FOR USE SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2014 AND THEREAFTER - A small piece of cotton from a swab in a sexual assault evidence kit is placed into a vial for testing in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston on Thursday, April 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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The most common reason the kits weren't tested, the report says, was that the victim decided not to proceed with the investigation. That was the case in 41 percent of the untested kits. In 31 percent of the kits, the state attorney's office declined to prosecute. Other reasons included a suspect's guilty plea, a victim's death, or a victim who declined to file a police report.

Clearing the backlog will take time and money. The report says any proposals to test the thousands of kits "are dependent upon additional funding for outsourcing, technology, overtime and a stabilized workforce of crime laboratory analysts."

Gov. Rick Scott announced in November that he will seek $8.5 million to help process the backlog. But estimates of managing the backlog range from about $9 million to $32 million over three to nine years, according to the report.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement that she's pleased the survey is finished.

"In this upcoming legislative session, I will work with lawmakers, law enforcement and victims' advocates to ensure our state crime labs have the resources needed to continue testing unprocessed sexual assault kits," she said.

The FDLE suggested that the most efficient and inexpensive way to manage the untested kits is through a combination of outsourcing , overtime for lab workers and federal funding.

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