Inventory untested rape kits?
Test backlogged rape kits?
Test newly collected rape kits?
Grant victims rights to notice and be informed?
Track rape kits?
Appropriate funding for rape kit reform?
In 2015, Florida enacted a law requiring the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to conduct a one-time audit of untested rape kits across the state. In the same year, the FDLE reported at least 13,435 untested rape kits in the possession of 279 law enforcement agencies. FDLE has announced a goal of testing 8,600 of these kits by June 2019. As of January 2018, testing has been completed on 6,161 kits, yielding 1,461 hits in CODIS. Florida law does not require law enforcement agencies to track rape kits.
In 2015, The Accountability Project issued an open records request to bring the number of untested rape kits in Jacksonville to light. Through this request, we uncovered a backlog of 1,943 untested kits in Jacksonville.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded the State Attorney's Office (4th Judicial Circuit, Jacksonville) $1,968,822 to test kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and re-engage survivors.
Also in 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office awarded funding to several agencies in Florida:
- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) was awarded $1,268,540 to test 2,076 rape kits;
- Tallahassee Police Department was awarded $163,939 to test 225 rape kits; and
- The Miami-Dade Police Department was awarded $1,968,246 to test 2,900 rape kits.
In 2015, Florida legislators appropriated $300,000 for the FDLE audit. The 2015 budget also appropriated $10,401,490 for the FDLE to distribute rape kits to local law enforcement agencies and test rape kits, including backlogged kits.
In 2016, Florida enacted a law requiring law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits for testing within 30 days if a report is made or if requested by the victim, and that all kits be tested within 120 days of receipt by labs. The law requires that hospitals and law enforcement inform the victim or the victim's representative of their right to demand testing. The bill mandates that the state crime lab system collaborate with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence to produce guidelines for kit collection, submission, and testing by January 2017.
In 2016, Florida legislators appropriated $2,300,000 in new funding to start testing backlogged kits.
Also in 2016, the BJA awarded the City of Jacksonville $672,284 to test kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and re-engage survivors.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded evidence tracking grants to multiple Florida jurisdictions:
- The City of Lake Mary received $6,130 to improve their evidence tracking system to facilitate the inventory, tracking, and reporting of rape kits by testing status;
- The Pasco County Sheriff's Office received $238,608 to develop an evidence tracking system;
- The Highlands County Sheriff's Office received $58,771 to develop a system to inventory and track rape kits and other evidence; and
- The City of Miami Police Department received $264,263 to upgrade its existing evidence tracking system to improve rape kit handling moving forward.
In 2018, BJA awarded the State Attorney's Office, Fourth Judicial Circuit $1.5 million to collect lawfully owed DNA from convicted offenders. BJA additionally awarded the City of Fort Lauderdale $238,031 to test kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and re-engage survivors.
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