More than 1,000 rape kits are sitting at the Honolulu Police Department’s crime lab, waiting to be tested.
This, as victims of sexual assault wait for justice, but can something be done to ease the backlog?
“It appears there are many sexual assault kits that have not been processed,” said Sen. Will Espero.
In fact, according to the Honolulu Police Department there are 1,500 sexual assault kits that have not been tested.
“So you now have victims out there who are waiting and they have no idea when these kits are going to be processed or if they are ever going to be processed,” said Espero.
So, how backed up is the system? and how long have some of the kits been sitting around untested?
“When I asked about are we talking two years? five years? even 10 years? that some of these might be unprocessed again the answer was I don’t know, I don’t have that information,” said Espero.
If HPD outsourced the testing, it could be done, but it would cost more than $2.3 million.
“Much of what was said is we don’t have the man power and we don’t have the labor and what that tells me and others is that it is not a priority for the department,” said Espero.
But with a new program being proposed by lawmakers there could be some changes on how the kits are handled.
The program would require law enforcement to submit sexual assault kits to a laboratory within 10 days.
Then the lab would have to complete the analysis within six months. Also, the number of untested kits would be submitted to the Attorney general every year.
HPD submitted testimony for the bill saying that while they do support the intent of the bill, with current resources the proposal would create further delays due to increased workload and add to the backlog.
“It is just unacceptable the way these kits are sitting on the shelf gathering dust,” said Espero.