Minnesota has been awarded a second $2 million grant to try and address its backlog of untested rape kits.
The true extent of rape kits left untested has unfolded in recent years, sparking a scandal impacting multiple police departments across the state.
A 2015 inventory identified 3,482 sexual assault kits across the state that had not been submitted for forensic testing, but the entire figure is likely to be higher given that just last month Minneapolis PD revealed it had discovered more than 1,500 untested kits in storage, which date back as long as 30 years.
On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced it had received an additional $2 million from the federal Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance to tackle the issue.
The money will go towards several organizations working to address the backlog, with just over $1.3 million going to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to test kits, track data and help local police with case investigations.
A little over $300,000 will go to the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault to coordinate protocol development, while the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office will get $219,020 for case investigations.
Alexandra House, a victim service provider that is providing victim advocacy services for Anoka County cases, has also received part of the grant.
"The Office of Justice Programs is proud to work with our project partners to find ways to streamline kit submissions, improve sexual assault investigations and provide support to victims across Minnesota," said OJP Executive Director Kate Weeks.
"Learning from this process, we will move toward improved policies and practices for responding to sexual assault incidents."
The federal department first issued a $2 million grant to Minnesota in 2018, sparking the creation of the Minnesota Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project.
Since then, more than 250 previously un-submitted kits have been forwarded by local police to the BCA for testing.
The money helps provide laboratory supplies and fund four BCA forensic scientists to tests the kits identified in 2015.
"This is an opportunity to gain valuable information from kits that for years have gone untested,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans. “Testing these kits will, in some cases, result in new information that can inform investigations and may bridge gaps in justice.”