Online Originals: State leaders push for funding to address backlog of sexual assault kits

Online Originals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — On Tuesday, state leaders held a press conference to address the extensive backlog of sexual assault kits and how to address them.

Attendees included North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, state senators Warren Daniel and Danny Britt, local representatives, law enforcement and a sexual assault survivor who gave her testimony.

State leaders conducted an inventory of the backlogged sexual assault kits, uncovering a total of 16,190. Of those, the state has completed 2,965 while another 5,404 still await processing.

But this isn’t just a state problem, it’s a national problem.

Back in 2016, Congress passed the Survivor’s Act, which pushed law enforcement to admit more testing kits to state crime labs. Since the act, local law enforcement annual admissions have more than doubled. With such a high demand and little resources to handle this existing problem, the price of testing kits has skyrocketed, from $700 to $1,245. That’s an increase of 75% just in the past year.

Now, state leaders are asking the general assembly for funding so they can outsource old tests and so they can focus on the backlog of more recent kits. Old tests are considered any test from or before 2018.

State leaders are also requesting $9 million as a one-time funding in order to pay for the outsourcing of these kits.

Stein made remarks during the press conference addressing survivors, saying they will do everything they can to get their kits tested. He also said as long as kits go untested, these victims and survivors will never get justice.

Each kit comes from a person, who suffered a terrible trauma and then willingly provided evidence, went through an invasive examination of hours to deliver evidence to the criminal justice system. We owe it to them to test their kits.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein

State leaders believe if they receive this funding, they can have all backlogged sexual assault kits tested and processed by 2023.

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