The budget approved last week by state lawmakers includes money to help prosecute some sexual assault cases. The $3 million allocation will go toward prosecutions that stem from testing old rape kits.
More than 11,000 unprocessed rape kits were found in an abandoned Detroit Police crime lab in 2009. Since then, Michigan State Police and county prosecutors have struggled to process the backlog. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office will get to divvy up those funds.
“The appropriation calls for us to develop a plan for how the money will be spent, and that’s what we’re working on right now,” said office spokeswoman Joy Yearout. Yearout said there was no formal deadline for submitting that plan, but the office is “fast-tracking” the process.
The current fiscal year’s budget included $4 million to help speed the process of testing those rape kits. “The next step will be investigation and prosecution that will result from that testing,” said Yearout.
Roughly 2000 kits have been processed, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office. Another 8000 are set to be tested “soon.” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced in March that about 100 serial rapists had been identified from kits tested so far.
The state legislature has also approved bills that put time limits on rape kit retrieval and testing.
The legislation requires police to obtain kits from health care facilities within two weeks of notification. They would then have two more weeks to submit the kit to a lab, where it would need to be processed within 90 days. That bill still awaits Gov. Snyder’s signature, as does the new state budget.