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New proposal to set 45-day limit to process rape kits in Washington

Washington has a backlog of thousands of rape kits. A new proposal would require DNA to be processed within 45 days of a police report.

A new proposal in Washington would require DNA samples in rape cases to be processed within 45 days after the incident is reported to police, instead of taking months or longer. 

A shortage of resources has produced a backlog of 2,000 rape kits at the Washington State Patrol’s crime lab. 

Processing the kits can routinely take several months or more than a year, said WSP Captain Monica Alexander.

“We don’t know how many of those will be folks that are out reoffending,” said Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines.

Orwall headed up a task force looking at the backlog and traveled to other states to see how officials there handled similar backlogs.

She said by hiring additional scientists and purchasing new equipment, the state can cut the processing time to 45 days.

The bill calls for $7.5 million over the next two years and another $5 million the following two years.

Orwall said that would be taxpayer money well spent.

“It’s a small amount of money for a whole lot of public safety,” said Orwall.

Rape survivor Leah Griffin testified in favor of the bill.

She said making survivors wait more than a year for justice sends a message.

“It feels like women’s bodies and lives don’t matter,” said Griffin.

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