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Attention has heightened as states that have taken on testing initiatives have seen promising results, including Ohio, which has seen DNA hits or matches in as many as one in every three kits processed.
Research is still in progress but early indications show that testing rape kits and prosecuting attackers can not only prevent trauma but save money spent on counseling, medical treatment, lost wages and other expenses.
In many cases, undetected rapists also have committed other non-sex crimes, such as thefts, burglaries and other offenses that have a community cost.
Questions: Evidence is overwhelming that testing previously untested kits has helped solve cases – and likely prevented rapes. Rape kit testing is increasingly providing evidence that those victims can be acquaintances, strangers or both.
News of another wave of unprocessed kits started to surface in recent years with large caches of untested kits discovered in Detroit, Dallas, Houston, Cleveland, Memphis, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and other cities.
Others argue that all kits, regardless of whether the suspect is known or unknown, should be analyzed.
Those who support the “test all” approach say that DNA profiles found in kits connected to relative or acquaintance rape could provide valuable links to other unsolved crimes.
Questions: Initially when DNA was introduced as a law enforcement tool it was expensive and also viewed as something to bolster a sexual assault prosecution – not to solve a case.
Many times, rape kits were only tested if a case was going to trial.