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Untested rape kits caught up, ending backlog exceeding 16,000

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(The Center Square) – A 2019 statewide audit found 16,219 untested sexual assault kits on the shelves of local law enforcement agencies. North Carolina’s lead prosecutor said Tuesday the backlog has been cleared.

Taxpayers, through decisions of lawmakers in appropriations, supplied about $18 million to help agencies and the state crime lab get up to date.

The culprit of the backlog was a lab without enough help to test the kits. Before the turn of the century and into the 2000s, without a suspect named, many kits went untested, and victims were without justice.

Josh Stein, the attorney general and Democratic choice in the gubernatorial election this fall, announced the end of the backlog. He credited Democrats and Republicans for the effort.

In his annual report three months ago, Stein said 174 arrests related to 200 crimes had been achieved as the backlog was getting whittled down.

At that time, 93% of 11,775 kits testable based on requirements of the Survivor Act had enabled the state crime lab to enter 4,906 new profiles into the database. Nearly 50% hit on existing profiles.

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