New Bill Proposes Police Departments To Count Untested Rape Kits
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A new bill proposed by a Tennessee law marker aims to force police departments to count all of their untested rape kits by summer.
The new bill proposed by Senator Mark Norris would force police agencies to count their untested rape kits by this July and send the report to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. By September, the TBI would report the findings to state lawmakers.
"The first bill I hope to pass later this afternoon out of committee is the inventory bill," said Senator Norris.
Officials said there is a huge backlog of untested rape kits in the State of Tennessee. In Memphis, there are more than 12,000, some of which date back to the 1980s.
"We're starting to look at our back logs, the sheriffs across the state. We haven't found a lot. It seems to be some of the larger metropolitan areas have more cases," said Terry Ash with the Tennessee Sheriff's Association.
Funding the testing could cost nearly $30 million.
"We've pretty much estimated that based on 20,000 kits received that we'll need about $28 million in order to fund new hires, which would be about 20," said Illana Tate with the TBI.
Those efforts would double the size of the staff and which would require another building. The Tennessee Sheriff's Association said the work should be done if a sex offender can be brought to justice but there are privacy issues at stake, as well.
"There are personal and privacy issues, but you have to balance those against the rights of society, which may be at risk if there is a perpetrator on the loose," said Senator Norris.
There are several pieces of legislation addressing this back log. One gives police 10 days to submit rape kits to the TBI.