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State audit finds progress on rape kit backlog

Some of the rape kits date as far back as 1983.

Posted: May 2, 2018 11:00 AM
Updated: May 2, 2018 1:01 PM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - An audit of backlogged rape kits held by the Oregon State Police shows the agency is processing them faster than any time in the last two years, and is making progress toward clearing the backlog by the end of the year.

The results were released by the Oregon Secretary of State's office Wednesday.

Some of the kits, which contain biological evidence in sexual assault cases, had been warehoused since 1983, and in 2015 the State Police quoted a statewide backlog of more than 5,600. In 2016, legislators passed a measure known as Melissa's Law to speed up processing, but by 2017 state labs said their backlog had actually increased.

According to a press release from Secretary of State Dennis Richardson on the audit, Oregon State Police has complied with Melissa's Law, increasing lab capacity and reporting to legislators on efforts to reduce the rape kit backlog. Also, the audit indicates that OSP is following best practices outlined by the National Institute of Justice for forensic labs processing the kits.

Working as a member of the Portland Police Bureau and Oregon Governor's task force, rape survivor and activist Danielle Tudor has tracked the testing progress of the backlog.

Regarding the audit, Tudor said, "I am very grateful that Secretary Richardson is a man of his word and completed the audit in a timely manner as promised. Not only did his team complete the audit of unprocessed SAFE Kits, but he also took the time to visit labs across our state to gain an understanding of how the process of testing a SAFE Kit works."

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