This week in our Cold Case Convictions series, where we highlight cases in which the testing of rape kits years later helps bring perpetrators to justice, we turn to Tennessee.
We sometimes hear from jurisdictions that they don’t consider the untested rape kits in their storage facilities to be part of a backlog—that officials actively chose not to test those kits. These jurisdictions fail to see the value of testing every kit booked into evidence, particularly when the identity of the perpetrator is known.
At the Joyful Heart Foundation, we join experts in this work to roundly dispute the idea that there are kits that do not require testing.
Behind the rape kit backlog is cultural misunderstanding of sexual assault. Too often, victims who report to law enforcement are belittled, harassed, disbelieved, dismissed.
The untested kits date back to 1985.
This summer has brought more news from Memphis, including developments with a federal lawsuit facing the city and the city’s investigation into the causes of its rape kit backlog.
Keli Rabon is an investigative reporter with Call7News in Denver, Colorado. Her work to uncover rape kit backlogs in both Denver and Memphis has led to policy changes, and has earned Keli numerous awards. ENDTHEBACKLOG spoke with her.
Memphis has made a commitment to address and eliminate the city’s backlog of untested sexual assault kits. And they're not alone in their efforts to tackle the backlog.
Last week, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong announced that the agency has more than 12,000 untested rape kits sitting in storage facilities—about 4,000 more than previously reported—and that it will take more than $4 million to process them all.