And when the tests are actually run, often it turns out the police have arrested and imprisoned the wrong man for the crime. At least five people serving prison time for rape were unjustly imprisoned and cleared with DNA evidence from untested rape kits.
This *should* be a cause for outrage. The police blame a lack of funding for testing--they rely on a lot of piecemeal grants. And sure, that certainly does make it harder to test your evidence. But what about all these innocent people spending five or ten or twenty years in prison? Maybe not imprisoning innocent people should be a priority?
HPD rape case backlog is far worse than feared | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle
For years, the Houston Police Department has conceded about 4,000 rape kits — all untested — are stored in a property room freezer, but a recent inventory shows there are potentially thousands more containing never-examined evidence from sexual assault cases.
"I think that's a disgrace and a disservice to women and the victims," said Johnny Mata, an activist with the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice. "What's happening right now is not acceptable"
According to department officials and figures compiled for a grant awarded to HPD from the National Institute of Justice this year, more than 3,000 kits stored in air-conditioned sections of the property room may not have been tested in addition to the 4,220 untested kits in a property room freezer. The estimate of additional kits is based on a random sampling.
Not only can untested sexual assault evidence cause delays in justice for rape victims, it also can lead to the conviction of innocent people.
Last month, the Houston Chronicle reported on a 1995 rape case that was solved after DNA evidence in the case, never previously analyzed, was tested. The suspect in the case, Roland Ali Westbrooks, was serving a prison sentence for a similar rape committed two years later.
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