Rape kit backlog: Nearly 4,000 rape kits not processed in county, DA working to fix problem

JeffCo working to reduce rape kit backlog

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Nearly 4,000 rape kits in Jefferson County have not been processed. The district attorney’s office is making sure those kits are getting tested and working to make sure it never happens again

“Maybe we’re late but let’s get it finished,” said Mike Anderton, Jefferson County District Attorney.

He said he was disappointed knowing that something serious as rape was never fully investigated.

“It’s like not testing the fingerprints from a crime scene. We now have to pick up something some years later and try to complete that investigation and the sexual assault kits are very much a part of the investigation,” he continued.

Nearly 4,000 rape kits in Jefferson County that have never been processed. The district attorney’s office is promising to fix it.
Nearly 4,000 rape kits in Jefferson County that have never been processed. The district attorney’s office is promising to fix it. (WBRC)

Since August of 2018, 75 sexual assault kits were sent over to the state forensics lab . The kits are being sent over in batches of 25.

“What we’re looking at is trying to get the kits analyzed first to see if any if the evidence would be usable during court,” Anderton explained. “ What we are not trying to do is re-traumatize people, victims, by somehow giving them hope and we can’t follow through with it.”

Nearly 4,000 rape kits in Jefferson County that have never been processed. The district attorney’s office is promising to fix it.
Nearly 4,000 rape kits in Jefferson County that have never been processed. The district attorney’s office is promising to fix it. (WBRC)

How to prevent a 4,000 case back log from happening again? Anderton said they’re now working with every law enforcement agency in the county to create a tracking system for all sexual assault cases

“At the Prescott House is where we talk to all children who make allegations of sexual assault. We are going to try and set up a scenario very similar to the Prescott House where we have a tracking system of each case and we can look up a victim at any time and figure out where their case, so that this doesn't happen again,” he explained.

Nearly 4,000 rape kits in Jefferson County that have never been processed. The district attorney’s office is promising to fix it.
Nearly 4,000 rape kits in Jefferson County that have never been processed. The district attorney’s office is promising to fix it. (WBRC)

The team also established a phone number that goes directly to victim’s advocates at the DA’s Office for survivors to call for an update on their kits. Anyone who wonders if his or her evidence is part of this inventory can call (205) 325-1423 for more information.

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