A few years ago, Missouri had about 7,000 untested sexual assault kits. Those kits help to link DNA evidence to suspects. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said that traffic jam of untested kits has nearly vanished.
“We’ve seen a 93% reduction in the backlog, so there’s much fewer kits remaining to be tested today because of the work my predecessors started and that we’ve concluded to a large extent after I took office,” he told Missourinet.
Nearly 1,000 DNA samples from tested kits match the DNA of 457 suspect profiles in a forensics database. Bailey’s office said DNA matches have led to at least three felony convictions, and nine other cases are set for trial or warrants have been issued.
Prior to the rollout of the SAFE Kit Initiative, the thousands of untested kits were collecting dust at Missouri law enforcement agencies.
“We’re moving with greater haste today,” said Bailey. “It’s in better condition because of the work that, at the time, General (Josh) Hawley and then-General (Eric) Schmitt did on this issue, and we’re going to continue to push that forward. A 93% reduction is a great number. We’re not done until we get to 100% reduction. We owe it to the victims of sexual assault to ensure that they get their day in court and the wrongdoers are held accountable.”
Schmitt’s office held several events around the state to collect kits from law enforcement agencies and ship the items to labs for testing.
Bailey’s office said more than 80% of the state’s law enforcement agencies have no untested sexual assault kits to report.
“So often, even when you bring a criminal case against a criminal defendant, the victim who suffered the sexual assault serves a lifetime sentence,” said Bailey. “So, ensuring that we’re finding justice for those victims and effectively and efficiently bringing wrongdoers to justice by moving them through that backlog of kits, by testing those kits in effective, efficient manner is critical.”
Missouri received some federal funds to collect the kits, inventory the kits, and ship the items to a lab for testing.
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