ASHEVILLE, NC (WSPA) – On Monday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was in Asheville addressing a huge backlog of untested sexual assault kits in the state.
Stein pointed out that North Carolina, to his knowledge, has the largest backlog of untested sexual assault kits in the country, and that is something he’s determined to change.
Last year, he said there were 15,000 untested kits across the state, some of them 30 years old.
“They experienced the trauma of a vicious assault, and then submitted themselves to hours of examination to produce the evidence. We owe it to them to test that evidence,” said Stein.
Stein commended the Asheville Police Department and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office for their efforts to test theirs, and working with the state crime lab to get it done.
In recent months, Asheville Police said they sent over more than 400 un-tested rape kits to the state crime lab to be tested.
“I’m happy to say that we’ve reviewed them all and the ones that we can send, we have sent,” said Asheville’s Deputy Chief of Police, Jim Baumstark.
It costs approximately $700 for each kit to be tested, so the state is hoping to continue to get the funding to get rid of the backlog.
According to Stein, the funding needed would be between $9-10 million.
“Testing these kits will undoubtedly put more criminals behind bars where they will not be able to hurt anyone else,” said Stein.
North Carolina is also taking steps to ensure the backlog doesn’t happen again.
In October of 2018, a tracking system was created for victims to monitor where their kits are locating during the testing process.
The General Assembly is also considering a bill this year, called The Survivor Act, that would give law enforcement 45 days to submit a kit for testing upon receiving it.