Ducey appoints team to handle rape test backlog

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is taking action on a backlog of rape kit tests that need to be performed. He's appointed a task force to come up with a plan on how to manage the backlog.

- Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is taking action on a backlog of rape kit tests that need to be performed. He's appointed a task force to come up with a plan on how to manage the backlog.

The task force includes lawmakers, advocates, and law enforcement officials. They are expected to come up with some answer to the daunting problem, thousands of rape kits never submitted to the lab. No DNA evidence was extracted, and many sex assault victims are still waiting for justice.

In Maricopa County, there are over 2,000 rape kits that need to be tested, and now Gov. Ducey has asked 18 people to determine how to handle the backlog.

"We have a lot of survivors who do not have a resolution, justice in their cases has not been served," said Jessye Johnson.

Johnson is with the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, and she's been appointed to the task force. She says some of the kits are not processed because the cases never go to court. Still she says many victims are awaiting justice, but the kits remain untested, locked up in evidence.

"We want to make sure that people who are sexually assaulting other people are held accountable in an appropriate way," said Johnson.

The state's problem with the tests is manpower and money. Vince Figarelli is the Superintendent of the state's laboratory system and says processing each test can cost around $2,000. The state can take in about 50 rape kits a month.

"Currently, we have the capacity to do what we have now, taking in a  couple thousand kits in one big batch would be a little difficult for us to handle," said Vince Figarelli.

The bipartisan task force will come up with standards to determine which cases need testing, and how the state will process each kit.

"I think creating this task force will send a message to survivors that this is a priority, and we will ensure there is a resolution for you," said Johnson.

The task force is expected to report back with recommendations in the fall of 2016.


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