TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a 32-page report released Monday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced there were 13,435 untested rape kits in the state of Florida and that 9,484 of them need to be tested.
The rape kits contain DNA swabs of the victim and could identify suspects, even in cold cases, and could exonerate some suspects. But thousands remain untested on the shelf.
Of the rape kits that do not need to be tested, some are from victims who did not wish to prosecute, while others the suspect pleaded guilty or the victim did not wish to file a police report. In 31 percent of cases, the State Attorney's Office did not wish to prosecute for the suspect.
Duval County has a total of 1,326 untested rape kits - the second most in the entire state behind only Miami.
The sheer number of tests is only the start of the problem, according to the report released by FDLE.
To test all of them, FDLE estimates it will cost somewhere between $9 million and $32 million. In November of last year, Governor Rick Scott proposed $8.5 million, but if the FDLE estimates hold up, that might not be anywhere near enough money.
To thoroughly examine the kits, FDLE says it will take somewhere from three to nine years.
According to the report, FDLE was tasked with also figuring out why there are so many untested kits.
Without saying definitively, authorities report that the sheer number of submitted rape kits could be a principal cause. FDLE labs alone - ignoring local crime labs - have seen their workload increase by almost 141 percent in the past four years - 83 percent this last year alone.
That's on top of a 5 percent increase in workload for the crime labs overall - not just testing rape kits.
Adding to the problem is the amount of time it takes to properly test a rape kit - FDLE says those tests take longer than most others in crime labs.
FDLE also points to an inconsistent workforce and said that if the kits are to be tested, authorities need additional funding for outsourcing, technology, overtime and a stable workforce in crime labs.
The backlog of untested kits isn't just a Florida problem, FDLE reports. For other states facing the same problem, the cost and time it will take to test every kit is relatively similar.
FDLE recommends the state ask for federal dollars to help offset the immense cost of testing the thousands of kits.
At the end of the report, FDLE suggests that all kits be tested in the interest of public safety.
Read the full report below: