A piece in the Washington Post highlights the growing backlog of untested rape test kits that are sitting in police storage units while rapists run free and victims suffer. Missing from the story, however, is one of the biggest contributors to this backlog, the enormous amount of police and tax resources spent targeting drug crimes, particularly marijuana possession.
The backlog is a disgrace. The total number of rape test kits that have never been sent to laboratories for testing exceeds 100,000. In some cases, the kits have been sitting in storage for decades. From the Washington Post:
“In 2009, authorities found more than 11,000 unprocessed kits at the Detroit crime lab after it was closed for improperly handling weapons evidence. After testing the first 2,000 kits, authorities identified 127 serial rapists and made 473 matches overall to known convicts or arrestees, or to unknown people whose genetic material was found at crime scenes.”
The real question is why does this backlog exist at all? Cities and states claim they don’t have the money or other resources, but they sure do have plenty of time and money to arrest people for drugs.
About 1.5 million Americans are arrested for drugs annually – about 660,000 for nothing more than possession of marijuana for personal use. It takes up to three hours to process someone after an arrest. And since most arrests involve multiple officers in multiple police cars it’s potentially dozens of lost police hours just to arrest one person for marijuana.
– Read the entire article at AlterNet.