Manhattan DA funds rape kit testing from more than 20 states

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has helped finance the testing of more than 55,000 rape kits from jurisdictions around the country. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

“Testing every rape kit is our best practice and our moral imperative,” Cyrus Vance says.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has helped finance the testing of more than 55,000 rape kits from jurisdictions around the country.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has helped finance the testing of more than 55,000 rape kits from jurisdictions around the country. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Niche Niche © Noah Fecks

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said on Tuesday that his office has tested more than 55,000 rape kits from 20 different states as part of a multiyear effort. 

The initiative was started in September 2015 with a $38 million investment from by Vance’s office that was financed from settlements in banking-related cases, according to the AP. The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance then announced a second stream of funding with a $41 million Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant Program. According to Vance’s office, the push resulted in more than 18,000 DNA profiles that have now been uploaded into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS. 

"Testing every rape kit is our best practice and our moral imperative — both to ensure survivors receive the support and action they deserve, and to ensure that these backlogs never happen again," Vance said in a statement. "With our $38 million investment, we have begun to rectify what has been a tragic failure of government and law enforcement at all levels — a decadeslong, systematic denial of equal rights for women in the justice system… Dedicated funding streams are necessary to end the backlog, but they are not sufficient — states must also rewrite their laws." 

According to Vance’s office, the newly tested DNA has resulted in 186 new arrests and 64 new convictions, including 47 for felony sexual assault. He said the backlog of untested kits has been eliminated or drastically reduced in several states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio. 

Vance also called on states to "mandate the timely testing of rape kits, and to eliminate statutes of limitation for felony sexual assault.”

Alison Fox