In January 2016, an audit revealed at least 13,435 untested rape kits in Florida. Testing is currently in progress, legislation that was recently passed will require law enforcement agencies to submit all rape kits for testing moving forward.
The audit, conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), is a result of a budget bill signed by Governor Rick Scott in June 2015. 279 law enforcement agencies reported the 13,435 untested kits. A few months prior in September 2015, the the Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced several jurisdictions that received funding for rape kit testing in Florida:
-The FDLE was awarded $1,268,540 to test 2,076 rape kits;
-Tallahassee Police Department was awarded $163,939 to test 225 rape kits;
-The Miami-Dade Police Department was awarded $1,968,246 to test 2,900 rape kits.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance announced the State Attorney's Office (4th Judicial Circuit) was awarded $1,968,822 in funding to address its backlog through testing kits, investigating and prosecuting cases and re-engaging victims.
In 2016, the Florida Senate and House passed SB-636, which requires law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits to the crime lab within 21 days if requested by the victim or victim's representative, and the victim to be informed of right to demand testing. Additionally, the bill mandates the FDLE to submit a plan and report of how to address the backlog of untested kits to the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House by June 30, 2017. The bill was signed by Governor Scott on March 23, 2016.
Additional legislation that is currently pending, HB-167, SB-368, HB-1331 and SB-1614, would further rape kit reform in Florida. HB-167 and SB-368 would require law enforcement agencies to adopt formal policies to ensure rape kits are properly submitted and evidence to be processed no later than 12 months after the alleged assault, and would also require all rape kits associated with a sexual assault prior to January 1, 2017 to be processed by January 1, 2020. HB-1331 and SB-1614 would require law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits to the FDLE within 30 days of collection and for the kits to be analyzed within 12 months, and would require any person found guilty of sexual assault to be charged a $1,000 fine to pay for rape kit testing.
Since the June 2015 audit bill was signed into law, we have urged lawmakers in Florida to take additional steps towards comprehensive reform, including requiring that all rape kits booked into evidence are tested. This legislation is a step forward in Florida, and we will continue to monitor this reform and update this page it develops.
Join us and take action today to advocate for transparency and change from our elected officials.
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In late 2013, the Hollywood Police Department announced that they had discovered a backlog of 94 untested rape kits dating back to 2005. Of those kits, 24 were immediately sent to a crime lab for testing and as of June 2014, an additional 13 kits had been tested as well.
Through The Accountability Project, we have discovered a backlog of 1,943 untested rape kits in Jacksonville. Additionally, we are using public records requests to bring the number of untested kits in Miami to light.
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