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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hillsborough commissioners to Gov. Rick Scott: Address untested rape kits now



TAMPA -- Hillsborough County commissioners sent a symbolic but united message to Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday: Address the backlog of untested rape kits now.

Commissioners voted 7-0 to send Scott a letter urging him to push the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review all untested kits immediately. The FDLE confirmed for the first time in November that there are more than 10,000 untested rape kits, but they lack the resources and workers to tackle them in a timely fashion.

It could take up to $9 million to hire the extra hands needed to eliminate the backlog.

The letter was urged by Commissioner Sandy Murman, who said the tests could help prove the innocence of inmates convicted of rape. They also have the potential to help solve cold cases.

“There have been so many improvements in technologies,” Murman said. “Many of the older kits have been sitting on the shelf for years and that’s before (DNA) testing was common.”

Scott has requested funding from lawmakers to speed up the testing of incoming evidence in crime labs, but his budget released in November didn’t include any new monies for FDLE to address the backlog of older kits. The Florida House is weighing a bill that would require the kits be tested by mid-2017.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 12:17pm]


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