Rape Kits From as Far Back as the 80s are Finally Getting Tested

The efforts have already helped identify 188 serial rapists from Detroit alone.

Shelves of untested rape kits. Image via Congressman Mike Honda's website.

When investigators discovered a pile of 11,000 untests rape kits in a Detroit police warehouse in 2009, the news sparked outrage from social justice advocates and lawmakers all over the country. Since then, with a grant from the National Insittute of Justice, the Detroit police have been able to process 2,000 of those kits and will continue to wade through the horrifingly massive backlog. Detroit Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who has spearheaded the campaign, says that the endeavour has already helped them identify 188 serial rapists. Worthy’s office has successfully pursued 14 convictions and has several arrest warrants out for suspected rapists.

The efforts are part of a national push to get unprocessed rape kits sitting in warehouses all over the country tested. There are an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits all over the country. One big hurdle for these departments is indequate funding, but a recent influx of public and private grants have unblocked the path to justice. New York City police have cleared a backlog of 17,000 rape kits since 1999, and Memphis is currently in the process of testing 12,000 kits. Activists say the shoddy handling of rape cases is indicative of a broader cultural problem that casts doubts on the claims of rape survivors.