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· August 7, 2013

Rape Kits Remain Untested

This weekend the Cleveland Plain Dealer is running a feature detailing the backlog of DNA rape kits that haven’t been tested. Some of these kits have sat in police evidence rooms for years and years. As officials work through this backlog they have discovered 12 serial rapists present in Cleveland in the late 1990’s. The Plain Dealer series is worth a read as it highlights this important issue,  providing an in depth look at the process of testing these kits and patterns of rapes in the Cleveland area. Spurred by media reports in 2011, Attorney General DeWine agreed to test rape kits throughout the state. Despite his  estimates of testing 250 kits a month, they have fallen short. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, since 2011, DeWine’s office has received  more than 3000 kits and tested just over 1300. Of the rape kits that have been tested 27% have matched someone whose DNA is in the state database.  This, along with the presence of serial rapists,  underscores the urgency of testing  all rape kits and of testing the remaining rape kits sent to the state.  By not testing these kits in a timely fashion, it diminishes the severity of the crime and potentially lets criminals go unpunished. In the case of repeat offenders, the delay in testing allows further rapes to be committed. In light of this Senators Turner and Cafaro have renewed their call for the passage of Senate Bill 83. Senate Bill 83 would eliminate the statute of limitation on rape cases. Currently if a charges aren’t filed within 20 years of the crime the suspect can not be prosecuted, even if there is a DNA match. This bill was introduced in March and has only received one hearing.

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