A new report released on Monday from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows more than 13,000 untested rape kits are in evidence rooms around the state of Florida, up 141 percent in the past four years, most significantly in the past year.
The FDLE says of the 13,435 untested kits, at least 9,484 "should be submitted" for testing to catalog DNA evidence that could convict accused criminals of sex crimes years after they were committed and pave the way for healing, justice and closure for rape survivors.
However, clearing that backlog could cost between $9 million and $32 million and take three to nine years to get through the 6,661 kits the FDLE says are within their jurisdiction.
The other problem is that counties with their own crime labs, like Pinellas, will have to come up with their own funding to clear the remaining 6,674 untested kits.
It's not just a problem here in Florida, but across the nation. President Barack Obama and Congress have set millions of dollars aside to help cities test rape kits.
If you're wondering why there are so many backlogged rape kits, here's why: Each time a detective or prosecutor decides not to request DNA evidence, the rape kits are booked into evidence, but end up sitting in police evidence rooms.
The second backlog exists in crime lab facilities, where rape kits are submitted for testing, but are awaiting DNA analysis and have not been tested in a timely manner because of budgetary or personnel constraints.
FDLE conducted a $300,000 study to find out what the exact problem is here in Florida and they plan to present the results to the legislature this month.
Attorney General Pam Bondi released the following statement about the release of the FDLE's Assessment of unsubmitted sexual assault kits:
"I am pleased FDLE completed its assessment, providing more information about unprocessed sexual assault kits in Florida. Testing these kits is a public safety issue that must be addressed; and in this upcoming legislative session, I will work with lawmakers, law enforcement and victims' advocates to ensure our state crime labs have the resources needed to continue testing unprocessed sexual assault kits."