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Bill mandates deadlines for rape kit testing

Office of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor

A bipartisan bill in the state Senate would speed up the testing of rape kits.

It proposes a set of deadlines for law enforcement agencies to pick up rape kits from medical facilities and have them tested at crime labs. The time limit from pickup  to completion of the lab analysis would be four months.

The bill is in response to the discovery in 2009 of about 11,000 untested rape kits in a Detroit police storage unit. The kits went back 25 years.

Kym Worthy, the Wayne County prosecutor, collaborated on the bill. 

Worthy said prompt analysis of rape kit evidence is a matter of justice for victims. "We want them to be able to see that if they do submit a rape kit for the purpose of possibly finding their perpetrator, it's going to be handled properly, it's going to be handled appropriately, it's going to be handled timely," she said.

Worthy said tests on a small fraction of the backlog show that speeding up testing is also a public safety issue. "We learned that we have already identified 127 serial rapists and these same rapists have gone on to rape in 22 other states and the state of Michigan  and the District of Columbia," she said.

Worthy expects a bill establishing a tracking mechanism to follow soon. She said victims should be able to track the status of their rape kit as easily as a package on Amazon. 

– Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom