Governor Bill Haslam addresses Memphis’ rape kit backlog

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MEMPHIS, TN –

(WMC) – Governor Bill Haslam says Memphis’ rape kit backlog must be handled on a local level, but he is looking at the possibility of standardizing procedures to make sure a backlog never happens again.

Memphis Police Department discovered more untested kits in a storage facility Sept. 16; it’s now a total of 12,360 backlogged rape kits dating back to 1976. More than 5,000 of the kits have now been processed.

“Are there different procedures? The state can say this is the way it should happen everywhere … That we might look at a piece of legislation,” Haslam said.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is working with the TBI to track the backlog and facilitate the processing the untested kits.

After the legislature required all agencies to inventory their backlog across the state, these are the results:

  • Memphis has the lions share of untested kits with 7,651
  • The second is Knoxville with 394

Norris revealed how long it would take to end the backlog.

“If Governor Haslam could write a check for the full amount today, we estimate it would still take as much as three years to complete the testing,” he said.

Some citizens stepped in to donate their own money to the cause. Real estate developer Nick Brown presented the city with a $10,000 check to help with the problem.

“If you catch one person out of this, maybe that stops a further 20 rapes,” said Brown, Director of GFI Americas.

Offices of the Memphis mayor and Shelby County District Attorney praised the action.

“We’re thankful for $10,000. We are sorry we are facing a $7 million issue, but these are people’s lives,” Memphis CAO George Little said.

Norris applauded Memphis’ transparency in the effort to end the backlog. If any legislation is drawn up to create standards, it would be introduced during the next session of the General Assembly in January.

Learn more about the rape kit issue here.

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Posted in News, Sen. Mark Norris
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