TBI receives grant money for testing unprocessed sexual assault - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TBI receives grant money for testing unprocessed sexual assault kits

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A small piece of cotton from a swab in a sexual assault evidence kit is placed into a vial for testing in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center. AP photo A small piece of cotton from a swab in a sexual assault evidence kit is placed into a vial for testing in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center. AP photo
  • TBI receives grant money for testing unprocessed sexual assault kitsMore>>

  • NBC NEWS EXCLUSIVE

    Millions earmarked to clear ‘disturbing' rape kit backlog

    Millions earmarked to clear ‘disturbing' rape kit backlog

    Thursday, September 10 2015 8:30 AM EDT2015-09-10 12:30:07 GMT
    p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 16.0px Times; color: #232323; -webkit-text-stroke: #232323} span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Almost $80 million is being earmarked to help clear the massive backlog and hopefully get justice for sexual assault survivors.More
    Almost $80 million is being earmarked to help clear the massive backlog and hopefully get justice for sexual assault survivors.More

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) received a grant Thursday of more than $975-thousand from the New York District Attorney’s (DANY) Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Program.

The money will be used to process 1,400 sexual assault kits that were accounted for after a 2014 bill required an inventory of unprocessed kits stored by law enforcement agencies across the state.  The grant money was funded through case handled by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and ear-marked to address the backlog of sexual assault kits from all over the country.

READ MORE | 3 INVESTIGATES: More than 250 sexual assault kits never sent to crime lab

The 2014 bill required every law enforcement agency in Tennessee to inventory all unprocessed sexual assault kits in their possession. That inventory found that 9,065 kits had not been submitted to TBI for analysis. The city of Memphis had approximately 6,945 of those unprocessed kits. The TBI is part of a 20-member multi-agency task force formed to reduce that caseload. Memphis has subsequently applied for and received grants to reduce that city’s backlog, and today was also awarded $1,995,000 from the DANY grant and an additional grant of $1,909,124 from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

The DANY grant awarded to the TBI today will cover the costs of using a private vendor to process 1,400 of the remaining untested 2,120 sexual assault kits throughout the state. The remaining 720 untested kits will be processed through conventional casework submission.

The results of each kit will be reviewed by two separate TBI Forensic Scientists. If the evidence tests positive during screening and a DNA profile can be developed, it will be entered into CODIS, a database of genetic profiles of convicted offenders, arrestees and unknowns, to check for potential matches.

Starting July 1st this year, sexual assault kits have to be submitted for processing within 60 days of being collected.

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