TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Governor Rick Scott has unveiled a budget that provides millions to improve state crime labs, but doesn't include funds for untested rape kits.
The budget provides $8.5M to improve turnaround times at crime labs. However, no money has been put aside to start testing nearly 11,000 rape kits sitting in evidence lockers around the state.
What the budget will do is keep the backlog from increasing, which the Coalition Against Sexual Violence said is an important message to send.
"It's 11,000 people, mostly women, but not exclusively women, who have been waiting a very long time to find out if anything is going to happen with their case," Jennifer Dritt, with the Florida Coalition Against Sexual Violence, said.
A final report on how many untested rape kits is due to the legislature by the end of 2015. Key budget writers have made testing those kits a priority, which means even more money could be forthcoming.
"You can't just do a forensic exam," Dritt said. "You have to move the kits through the process in order to have the opportunity to provide survivors justice and at least limit sexual violence."
In addition to more funding, legislation that's been introduced would also require all of the backlogged kits to be tested by mid 2017.