Does Tennessee law require...
An Audit of Untested Rape Kits?
Yes – One-Time
Tracking of Rape Kits?
Testing of all backlogged rape kits?
Testing of all rape kits in the future?
Victims to be notified of the status of their cases?
Funding for testing kits?
In 2013, Memphis reported that it had more than 12,164 untested kits. Testing began in 2013 and is ongoing. In 2014, Tennessee enacted a law requiring the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to conduct a one-time audit of untested rape kits. TBI reported 9,062 untested kits in law enforcement storage statewide. Tennessee law does not require law enforcement agencies to track rape kits.
In 2014, The Accountability Project issued an open records request to bring the number of untested rape kits in Nashville to light. Through this request, we uncovered that Nashville Police Department booked 4,524 rape kits into evidence between 1995 and 2014. The department reported to us that by October 2014, all but six kits “with special circumstances” were tested.
In 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office awarded $976,420 to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to test 1,400 rape kits. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the Memphis Police Department a total of $3,904,124 to test kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and re-engage survivors.
In 2015, Tennessee enacted a law requiring law enforcement to send rape kits to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation or another accredited lab for forensic analysis within 60 days. The law also required the domestic violence state coordinating council to create a model policy for responding to sexual assault.
In 2015, The Accountability Project issued a public records request to bring the number of untested kits at the Tennessee Crime Lab to light. Through our efforts, we have learned that backlogs and turnaround times vary significantly across the three TBI laboratories. As of October 2016:
- The Nashville lab has a backlog of 87 cases, with a turnaround time of 16 weeks for testing kits;
- The Knoxville lab has a backlog of 170 cases, with a turnaround time of 10 weeks for testing kits; and
- The Memphis lab has a backlog of 337 cases, with a turnaround time of 32 weeks for testing kits.
In 2017, Tennessee legislators introduced a bill to shorten deadlines for law enforcement agencies to submit newly collected kits to the lab from 60 days to 30 days after collection.
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