State to test 100s of rape kits, some decades old

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MERIDEN–The state forensic science lab is facing an influx of rape kits, some which have remained untested for over 20 years.

The lab said it has received about half of 847 kits from local police departments.

Local PDs stored the kits until time and advancements allowed for better DNA testing.

The lab confirmed it has tested about a hundred of the kits so far.

On Thursday, it was announced that Connecticut was one of 20 jurisdictions to receive a piece of a $41 million grant to help erase the backlog of untested kits.

“Rape kits are an essential tool in modern crime fighting — not only for the victim, but, for the entire community. Studies show we solve up to 50 percent of previously unsolved rapes when these kits are tested. When we solve these cases, we get rapists off the streets. For most survivors, seeing their rapists brought to justice, and knowing that they will not return, brings peace of mind and a sense of closure. The grants we’re announcing today to reduce the national rape kit backlog will bring that sense of closure and safety to victims while improving community safety,” Vice President Biden said.

Specifically, Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection was awarded $1,401,966.

The Joyful Heart Foundation, through its End The Backlog initiative, has worked closely with Connecticut to speed up the process of testing rape kits.

“If you do test every kit and you enter the results into the DNA database, your chances of solving crimes increases exponentially,” Ilse Knecht, the Joyful Heart Foundation’s senior adviser for policy and advocacy, said.  “We feel that we should be doing that so that we can really bring  justice to survivors and answers to survivors who have really in many of these cases been waiting a long time for justice.”

Of the 100 outstanding rape kits from local police which have been tested already, the state forensic science lab wouldn’t say if any of the cases are linked or have been solved.

The lab said if there are connections, that information would be kept confidential as part of an open investigation.