7,000 Rape Kits Not Tested

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It was recently reported in Los Angeles that at least 7,000 sexual assault test kits were as of yet unopened. In at least 217 of those cases — nobody is sure of the precise number — the kits have been left to sit for so long that the 10-year statute of limitations has expired, so those assailants cannot be prosecuted. With statistics showing that repeat offenders are often likely, it seems like dropping the ball on this issue will allow hundreds of sexual predators to remain on the streets. “Every unopened rape kit means there may be a dangerous offender loose on the street,” said Gail Abarbanel who directs the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica UCLA Medical. “Three new victims came in here yesterday, and you have to wonder whether any of them would have been raped if all those kits had been opened.” Critics contend that the mayor of Los Angeles, as well as city council members is to blame for their failure to a lot funds to the issue. The failures come not only in the lack of money given to this issue by the city but also the LA Police Departments’ unwillingness to demand more. These are not simply issues of justice but of basic decency. Our social contract contains an implicit pledge that we will do what we can to keep one another safe and, when that’s impossible, to do what we must to make the injured whole. Hopefully the recent media attention will bring quick results to a situation in dire need of fixing. A similar problem occurred in the early 1990’s in New York City when they discovered over 17,000 kits untested. A quick response in funding and man power helped to solve the problem in the Big Apple in only three years. There seems to be no reason in my mind why the same type of response isn’t possible here.