|Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi|
TALLAHASSEE, Florida - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) released its report of a statewide assessment of unprocessed sexual assault kits on Monday. The assessment was funded by the Florida Legislature last year following statewide media attention about the continuing backlog of unprocessed rape kits in the Sunshine State.
"Increased awareness of the potential of DNA evidence to exonerate the falsely accused or to solve cases, even beyond the case for which the evidence was collected, has grown exponentially in recent years, not just among criminal justice professionals but also among the general public," the FDLE stated in the report.
The statewide assessment, which surveyed 279 local law enforcement agencies representing 89 percent of Florida’s population, found that there were approximately 13,435 unsubmitted sexual assault kits and approximately 9,484 of them should be submitted for processing.
The FDLE stated in the report that processing the backlog of unsubmitted kits is dependent upon additional funding for outsourcing, technology, overtime and a stabilized workforce of crime laboratory analysts. The cost to process the backlogs ranges from approximately $9 to $32 million - with time frames ranging from three to nine years.
The FDLE contends that most cost efficient and timely way to manage this backlog is through outsourcing a portion of kits, obtaining additional robotics through federal funding, and utilizing overtime funds to allow scientists to conduct technical review of these cases and upload them to the FBI’s National Combined DNA Indexing System.
“I am pleased FDLE completed its assessment, providing more information about unprocessed sexual assault kits in Florida," Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a release. "Testing these kits is a public safety issue that must be addressed; and in this upcoming legislative session, I will work with lawmakers, law enforcement and victims’ advocates to ensure our state crime labs have the resources needed to continue testing unprocessed sexual assault kits.”
In Brevard County, 215 sexual assault kits were not submitted for processing. Of the 215 unprocessed kits, FDLE determined that 38 should be processed - all of which were Brevard County Sheriff's Office cases. The reasons given by Brevard County law enforcement agencies for not processing the kits included:
Some kits were from non-reporting victims;
Cases where the victim no longer wanted the investigation to proceed;
Cases not being pursued by the State Attorney's Office;
The suspect pled guilty/no contest in the case;
Consensual sex; or
The local law enforcement agency does not require submission.
Below is the agency breakdown in Brevard County compiled by Brevard Times using FDLE data.