Cuyahoga County

Ohio leads the way on breaking through the rape kit backlog

7/7/2014 By Mike DeWine and Timothy J. McGinty
Mike DeWine is Ohio’s attorney general. Timothy J. McGinty is Cuyahoga County prosecutor.

It’s often said that justice delayed is justice denied. This is especially true for victims in sexual assault cases that were never prosecuted or even fully investigated.

Numerous reports from across the country indicate that many thousands of unprocessed rape kits, which are used to collect and store DNA evidence in sexual assault cases, have been sitting on shelves for years and sometimes decades. They have lingered there for a variety of reasons, including charges never being brought, the expense of testing the evidence, the limits of DNA technology when the samples were gathered and, most inexcusable, simple bureaucratic neglect.

That used to be true in our state as well. But in 2011, the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Commission recommended that all old evidence collection kits be tested, and law enforcement agencies were encouraged to send their unprocessed kits to the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation to be analyzed at no charge.

The results have been stunning.

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