In May 2015, Governor Mark Dayton signed a public safety budget bill that requires law enforcement agencies to conduct an audit of untested rape kits in their evidence facilities and report a plan for testing. Later that year, the audit report revealed Minnesota has 3,482 untested rape kits in 171 police agencies across the state.
In September 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance announced the City of Duluth Police Department was awarded $1,011,096 in funding to address its backlog through testing kits, investigating and prosecuting cases and re-engaging survivors. In the statewide audit, Duluth reported 578 untested rape kits. While this law will allow us to have a more accurate picture of the backlog in Minnesota, the legislature must take additional steps to provide survivors with greater access to justice, including requiring the testing of all rape kits booked into evidence.
On March 29, 2016, Minnesota legislators introduced SF3443 and HF3761 to increase transparency and accountability across the state around rape kit testing and the response to survivors. The bill would require law enforcement to submit kits for testing within 60 days of receiving it and mandates that the results of the testing must be submitted to the national DNA database within 30 days of testing. Every year, the director of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA, the state forensic lab), each director of any other publicly funded labs in the state, and every sheriff and chief of police must submit a written report about the number of untested kits in its possession. The report must include the date it was collected and the reason it was untested. The superintendent of BCA must submit a report to the legislature and the attorney general about the extent of the backlog and a plan to resolve it. The bill also includes training requirements for peace officers about sexual assault response and investigation.
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In 2009, Hennepin County received a two-year grant from the Justice Department to review cold cases with DNA evidence dating back to 1991. In all, 9,347 rape cases were reviewed, and 574 previously untested rape kits were sent for testing, resulting in 195 matches in the DNA database.
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