Washington lab needs more money to clear rape kit backlog

SEATTLE — Lab managers in Washington say they won’t be able to make a dent in the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits until more money is found.

KING-TV reports that a new state law requires police departments to submit every rape kit for testing within 30 days of completion. Even with staffing increases, the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab can’t keep up with the influx.

DNA database manager Jean Johnston says there’s been about an 86 percent increase in rape kits at all five of the state’s DNA labs.

Lawmakers gave the lab an extra $2.75 million to offset the workload, but that’s less than half what State Patrol requested. Johnston says the money will let them hire seven more scientists, but that’s not enough to clear the backlog.

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