The budget proposed by state Republicans has North Carolina’s attorney general and some Democratic leaders voicing their concerns due to the lack of funding for the state’s sexual assault kit backlog.
It’s a problem that’s gone on for years and Republicans stated they are not to blame.
“Not acceptable ” is how North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein viewed the newly released Republican budget.
His office wanted $2 million to process sexual assault kits.
But in the GOP’s nearly $24 billion plan that money was denied.
“We’ve got to test those kits and to do that requires money. We need to outsource those to private labs so that we can get those kits tested,” stated Stein.
A provision of the 2017 budget called for the Attorney General’s Office to survey local law enforcement to get their number of untested sexual assault kits.
Those efforts found the following:
- There are a total of 15,160 untested kits in North Carolina.
- About 8,000 of those cases have been resolved ( i.e. either the victim didn’t press charges, the suspect admitted to the crime or police dismissed the case).
- 7,545 cases are still sitting in evidence rooms in every county of the state waiting to be tested.
Stein stated the time is now for this problem to be resolved.
“Each one of those 15,000 kits is a human being, a person who suffered probably the most traumatic thing, any of us could possibly imagine. Then they went through the process of giving evidence! They deserve to have that evidence tested and the state of North Carolina has to step up for those people,” stated Stein.
In response to the attorney general’s statements Sens. Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes), Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), Tamara Barringer (R-Wake), Cathy Dunn (R-Davidson), Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) and Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) issued issued a news release.
Their statement read in part “Josh Stein should know better and should be ashamed of this partisan attempt to deflect blame and defend the failures of his predecessor Roy Cooper.”
Despite the political back and forth, Stein stated more funding could still come.
“They can still pass legislation creating a task force to look at it, to develop a protocol for what law enforcement agencies do on a going forward bases. But those 15,000 kits the only way to address them is through money and if they don’t come up with a supplemental appropriation bill – I’m worried that we’re losing time,” said Stein.
The House and Senate are currently debating the budget. That is expected to wrap up on Friday.