Oklahoma lawmaker to study backlog of untested rape kits

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rape kit under microscope

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma lawmaker wants to take a closer look at the backlog of untested rape kits in the Sooner State.

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation explained that new legislation and employee turnover have caused hundreds of cases to pile up.

In 2019, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a measure that requires rape kits to be submitted within 20 days of receiving them.

“The problem with it was is it first came in as a trickle, or a dripping faucet, and it turned into a river of these new cases,” said OSBI Director Ricky Adams.

Officials say they are receiving around 100 new cases each month.

“That explains why our time to process these went from 40 days prior to that law being in effect to now it takes us about 300 days to work a kit,” said Andrea Fielding, OSBI’s Director of Forensic Science Services.

OSBI officials say employees are working overtime, but they are still overwhelmed.

“Ultimately, the time we expect it’s going to take us to clear these task force cases is about four to five years,” said Fielding.

Fielding told News 4 that OSBI has a list of priorities for tackling the growing list of kits. The highest of those being crimes against children, the elderly and mentally incapacitated, along with cases where suspects are truly unknown.

Now, an Oklahoma lawmaker says she plans to study how the backlog of cases is handled.

Sen. Kay Floyd, who was author of Senate Bill 976 in 2019, said the bill aimed to address the backlog.

“I’ve been working with the Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) for years to address the mounting backlog of rape kits and ensure victims get the answers and peace they deserve,” Floyd said. “We want to make sure this backlog is being addressed and see if there’s anything we can do legislatively to support and protect victims of these terrible crimes.”

Now, Floyd says she plans to study the progress of analyzing the backlog and provide an update on the current sexual assault cases that are still waiting to be tested.

The study has been assigned to the Public Safety Committee.

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