JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt believes victims of sexual assault can find hope in the news a backlog of untested rape kits is being tested.
Earlier this week, Schmitt’s office announced that a federal grant made testing of 1,250 kits possible. Schmitt said his office has been working for approximately a year to locate all of the untested kits and discovered 6,000 have gone untested.
“Some of these kits date back to the 1980s,” he said.
An absence of a statewide tracking system has led to kits across the state remaining in storage. Schmitt said some were in evidence rooms across Missouri or in evidence type rooms at hospitals.
“It’s really been a big priority for me as attorney general and for our office to clear that backlog,” he said.
Schmitt has made several recommendations to lawmakers as a way to avoid future backlogs:
- To require all entities handling the untested sexual assault kits to use the electronic tracking system that the attorney general’s office is currently developing
- Create a centralized physical location in Missouri to store all untested sexual assault to ensure kits are properly retained
- Review and revise the information located on the exterior of kits to provide practitioners with the information they need without compromising the integrity of the evidence
- Track each sexual assault kit as a whole instead of individual components of the kit to prevent compromising kit evidence during tracking
“It’s a big deal for a victim to come forward,” said Schmitt. “We want to make sure we’re honoring that and doing everything we can to get these kits tested, find out the results, work with local prosecutors and bring people to justice.”
Schmitt said the initial round of testing should be completed by this fall and is possible because of a federal grant. He said his office will be allowed to reapply for another grant once they use the current funding to test the first round of untested kits.