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New measure aims to tackle backlog of sexual assault kits

Back in January, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released the results of a rather shocking survey, which determined that there were 13,435 untested sexual assault kits across the state.

In light of the reality that these kits contain valuable DNA evidence that could not only identify potential suspects, but also establish the innocence of those wrongfully sent to prison, state lawmakers vowed to take the necessary actions.

These efforts proved successful, as Governor Rick Scott signed a measure into law earlier this week that not only introduces major changes in the way sexual assault kits are to be processed by law enforcement going forward, but also allocates a considerable sum to tackling the backlog of untested kits.

Specifically, the legislation calls for $2.3 million to be allocated to six state crime labs operated by the FDLE on July 1, including here in Orlando, for the express purpose of processing the kits. Indeed, projections show that this much-needed funding will see upwards of 6,661 untested kits examined by crime lab experts.

It should be noted, however, that none of these earmarked funds will go to the county crime labs, like those found in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties.

As for the testing of kits going forward, the measure calls for the following:

  • Law enforcement officials must submit sexual assault kits to state crime labs for processing within 30 days
  • State crimes labs must complete their analysis of sexual assault kits within 120 days

It will be interesting to see if the $2.3 million proves sufficient to process all of the older kits and whether the new regulations will make a demonstrable difference going forward.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you are under investigation or have been arrested on sex crime charges, it's imperative to consider speaking with an attorney as soon as possible, as your freedom, your reputation and your livelihood are at stake.

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