Twenty states across the nation will finally eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits thanks to a $38 million grant awarded through the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Cyrus Vance, Jr., Manhattan’s District Attorney announced today that 32 jurisdictions will receive grants ranging from $97,000 to $2 million to test over 56,000 rape kits.
“These grants will generate leads in thousands of cases across the country, some of them decades old,” Vance said. “Tackling the national rape kit backlog means addressing a women’s and human rights issue that has been ignored for far too long. We are refusing to accept that some criminal justice problems are just too big – too ingrained, too controversial, too expensive – to solve.”
New York is not one of the recipients as the state cleared a backlog of 17,000 rape kits from 2000 to 2003, resulting in 49 indictments connected to unsolved cases in Manhattan alone, according to the D.A.’s reports.
“By helping to solve sexual assault cases in other cities, we are ultimately addressing and preventing sexual assault in New York City – a critical component of ensuring that we remain the safest big city in America,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In addition, Vice President Joe Biden together with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) $41 million initiative toward ending the backlog.
Some recipients from the Manhattan D.A.’s office will receive training and technical assistance from the BJA. Although both agencies coordinated so there wouldn’t be any duplication of services, nine jurisdictions will receive funding for both.
“For anyone who has felt isolated and afraid, left out and left behind as a result of a sexual crime, our message is clear,” said Attorney General Lynch. “We will not forget you. We will not abandon you. You are not alone.”