Over 70,000 US rape kits haven't been tested

Why Haven't 70,000 Rape Kits Been Tested for DNA?

USA TODAY recently teamed up with journalists from more than 75 Gannett newspapers and TEGNA TV stations to conduct the most detailed nationwide inventory of untested rape kits in history. What they found was heartbreaking: At least 70,000 rape kits have been neglected in the US.

Even though the study was huge, it only covered a portion of the U.S.'s 18,000 police departments -- which means that there are probably hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits out there.

In order to complete a rape kit, survivors must undergo a grueling and invasive process that can last four to six hours. The DNA in these kits is meant to help identify suspects.

Terrifyingly, records clearly show a gaping inconsistency in how police handle rape evidence. While some departments test every rape kit they receive, others send as few as two in 10 rape kits to crime labs.

So what's hindering the police from sending in the rape kits? For one, it costs roughly $1,000 to analyze each kit. Also, there aren't any written guidelines for processing evidence from sex crimes. Unfortunately, decisions are oftentimes left to the discretion of the officers who investigate the crimes.

For rape survivors like Jeanie Scheske, the untested evidence adds up to be more than just numbers in a study. "Every single one of those rape kits is a person, and (their) family and friends," she said.

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