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AG Josh Stein Announces End of Rape Kit Backlog

Source: CBS 17

On Tuesday, Attorney General Josh Stein announced that North Carolina has successfully cleared the backlog of untested sexual assault kits. Since 2017, Stein has made it a priority to address this issue, aiming to ensure justice for survivors. Through collaboration with the legislature and local law enforcement, the Department of Justice conducted a comprehensive statewide inventory, revealing over 16,000 untested kits in local agencies’ possession by 2019.

Stein spearheaded the enactment of the Survivor Act in partnership with legislators, which established a systematic approach to testing older kits. This legislation provided substantial funding and implemented standards to streamline the process of sending new kits for testing promptly.

“Today is a great day: North Carolina has ended the rape kit backlog. I am incredibly proud of the bipartisan and collaborative effort that produced this achievement – Republican and Democratic legislators, district attorneys, and law enforcement officers all played a critical role in ending the backlog. I also want to thank the scientists at the State Crime Lab who have worked countless hours to get these kits tested. Most importantly, I thank the victims for their bravery in submitting the evidence so we can hold their rapists accountable. Today’s excellent news is the result of an impressive team effort, but our work doesn’t end now. We’ve put in place measures to ensure that we never get into this situation again in North Carolina, and I intend to continue to do everything in my power to help law enforcement solve cold cases and get rapists off the streets and behind bars.”

Attorney General Josh Stein

Under Attorney General Stein’s leadership, the State Crime Lab introduced a tracking system to monitor the progress of kits collected, benefitting survivors, law enforcement, prosecutors, and other stakeholders. This system, currently operational, aims to prevent future backlogs.

As of April 2024, the Attorney General’s office reports that 11,841 kits have been either tested or are undergoing testing. Of these, 5,075 samples have been entered into the CODIS DNA database, with 2,702 kits matched through CODIS.

Out of these matches, 2,024 samples have resulted in hits to offenders already present in the DNA database due to prior convictions or arrests, leading to 114 arrests by law enforcement.

The Attorney General’s office notes that the testing process is ongoing for the remaining 17 kits.

Monika Johnson-Hostler, the executive director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, emphasized the significance of this effort in delivering justice to survivors. She expressed gratitude for the progress made, indicating that the initiative has propelled cold cases forward and assured survivors that the state’s justice system is dedicated to addressing their experiences and advocating on their behalf.

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