12,000 untested rape kits could lead to required inventory - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

12,000 untested rape kits could lead to required inventory

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Senator Mark Norris wants to require law enforcement across state to inventory their shelves for untested rape kits. Senator Mark Norris wants to require law enforcement across state to inventory their shelves for untested rape kits.
Memphis currently faces a lawsuit over the backlog; the city says they can no longer speak publicly about it. Memphis currently faces a lawsuit over the backlog; the city says they can no longer speak publicly about it.

(WMC-TV) - One of the most powerful members of the Tennessee Legislature called for a full public airing of the rape kits backlog in Memphis.

Local law enforcement learned last year more than 12,000 rape kits went untested since the 1980s. Senator Mark Norris wants to require law enforcement across state to inventory their shelves for untested rape kits.

"Until we know the size of the problem, we don't know what the remedy is, let alone how much it will cost," said Norris. "I want to have testimony in committee, I want public defenders, I want the district attorneys, I want the TBI to come in and explain to all of us how this works."

Norris says the TBI have been testing the kits at no charge to local law enforcement for years, which creates constraints by what district attorneys and other personal instruct them to do.

Up to now, the TBI tests kits with state tax dollars.

"If they send a kit and they only want serology, but not DNA, that's what TBI does, because they don't want to trash an evidence record or do anything wrong," said Norris.

Memphis currently faces a lawsuit over the backlog; the city says they can no longer speak publicly about it.

"We all need to be sensitive to victims' rights and particularly if there are pending cases and prosecutions underway. You don't want to do anything to taint those cases," said Norris.

How long the bill will take to potentially become law remains unclear. The bill would require:

Law Enforcement - As introduced, requires all law enforcement agencies who store and maintain sexual assault collection kits to conduct an inventory to determine how many kits being stored are untested by the TBI or a similar laboratory and report the findings to TBI, who reports it to the speaker of the house and speaker of the senate.

Read more about the bill by clicking here.

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