Lack of funding has been a problem
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 9, 2016) — Kentucky has received $4.5 million in funding to help end the state’s rape kit backlog, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced today.
The backlog was discovered in 2015, when Kentucky’s state auditor uncovered more than 3,000 sexual assault forensic exam kits (SAFE kits) languishing in police departments and in the KSP crime lab. Some of the reasons provided for the backlog were lack of funding and shortage of staff at the KSP crime lab.
Some funding was established when KSP applied for and received nearly $2 million from a grant from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Yet, additional resources and reforms were needed in order to fully address the issue.
During the 2016 legislative session, Beshear asked the General Assembly to approve $4.5 million in settlement funds from a lawsuit against the Risperdal drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, to be used for testing of SAFE kits. Over the next two fiscal years, an additional $1 million from the settlement will also go to aid law enforcement and prosecutors in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases.
Senate Bill 63, the SAFE Act, which passed unanimously, ensures all SAFE kits are submitted, that police are trained to conduct victim-centered sexual assault investigations and that all kits be tested within set timelines.
“Let there be no doubt — this issue is not about the backlog of ‘kits,’ it is about justice for victims of rape,” Beshear said.