The Backlog:

Memphis

In August 2013, the Tennessee State Office of Criminal Justice Programs awarded a $500,000 grant to the Memphis Police Department (MPD) to screen untested rape kits. With the grant, the Department would be able to send 2,226 kits for preliminary screening, leaving an additional 10,000 kits—some dating as far back as the 1980s—unscreened and untested. In addition to the grant from the Office of Criminal Justice Programs, the Memphis City Council added $500,000 to the police department's budget for rape kit testing and committed $1 million to build a facility for properly storing rape kit evidence.

On October 21, 2013, Mayor AC Wharton issued an executive order instructing the police to develop a plan for clearing the backlog as quickly as possible and to provide monthly progress reports. MPD has since reported that it has a total of 12,164 untested kits. The City estimates it will cost approximately $6.5 million to clear the backlog entirely through testing at a private lab. On March 4, 2014, Memphis City Council voted unanimously to allocate $1 million to testing backlogged rape kits. 

As of April 2014, testing of backlogged kits had resulted in 91 investigations and 14 indictments. An additional 16 suspects were identified as having already been convicted of the assault in question. 

Joyful Heart is working in partnership with Memphis to end its backlog and ensure justice for survivors. We are part of the multidisciplinary team tasked with developing a survivor-centered plan for ending the backlog, re-engaging survivors in the criminal justice process and moving cases forward to prosecution. 

 

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