There are more than 15,000 sexual assault evidence collection kits in North Carolina that have yet to be tested, according to the numbers compiled by the Department of Justice and made available by Attorney General Josh Stein’s office and the state crime lab.
The investigation, which counted the number of untested kits through the end of 2017, found 15,160 sexual assault kits were untested and 7,545 of those untested kits were uncharacterized by law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement agencies in North Carolina characterize the kits in four categories: a kit tied to a victim who chooses to remain anonymous and does not report the incident to authorities (390), a kit that has been tied to a case that has been resolved in court (2,741), a kit that has been tied to a suspect who has admitted to committing the sexual act in question (1,054), and kits associated with allegations determined to be unfounded through further investigation (3,820).
Stein’s office reports that 92 percent of law enforcement agencies across North Carolina responded to the department of justice’s inventory request following the passage of Session Law 2017-57, which requires law enforcement agencies across the state to report the number of untested kits in their custody.
The Department of Justice made recommendations in response to the report and Attorney General Stein said clearing the backlog and testing these kits needs to be a priority. He believes a statewide tracking system for sexual assault kits would help prevent future backlogs.
“I've made a recommendation to the legislature for a statewide tracking system, so we can know exactly how many kits there are [and] where they are in the process,” Stein said. “If a person can track a package to guarantee delivery, a victim should be able to track a kit to guarantee its testing.”
Along with the statewide tracking system, Stein recommended all kits currently in law enforcement custody be tested and that a protocol be developed to test all kits reported to law enforcement going forward.