SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Nearly every state has a backlog of untested rape kits.
This week, police arrested an Oregon man after a DNA match from a 22-year-old rape. Now California lawmakers are trying to keep that from happening here in the state.
“I don’t think it was recognized as a problem, initially, until the last several years,” said Steve Grippi, the chief deputy at the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office.
It’s roughly the size of a shoe box, but the DNA evidence inside of a rape kit is so critical, it can make or break a case. Yet, thousands of these kits are sitting untested all across the country.
“Here in Sacramento County we get 250 to 350 rape kits a year,” Grippi said.
In California, there are 13,000, and in Sacramento County, there are roughly 700.
“I don’t think it was recognized as a problem, initially, until the last several years,” Grippi said.
He believes it all comes down to resources.
“It takes 4 to 5 days for our laboratory to do one rape kit,” he said.
But after that, the lab’s criminalist still has to write a report and get the evidence reviewed two more times. And if the agency is understaffed, the testing doesn’t get done.
“We have a five-member team that we’ve created in our laboratory who is working on streamlining for the testing and, of course, maintaining the quality because that’s paramount,” Grippi said.
New legislation from state Sen. Connie Leyva would require rape kits to be submitted within 20 days and tested no more than 120 days or 4 months later.
Leyva said in a statement: “…it’s critical that rape kits are processed swiftly to both attain justice and help identify and prosecute rapists so that we can keep them off the streets.”
Grippi calls it a worthwhile effort but says in Sacramento County his staff already processes the kits within 45 days. Part of its formula for the quick turnaround: sending all rape kits directly from the