LANSING (WWJ) – Gov. Rick Snyder has announced a plan to use $4 million in state funds to test thousands of rape kits that were left forgotten in a Detroit storage facility.
Speaking alongside Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worth and Attorney General Bill Schuette, Snyder said the money will come from a $4 million infusion into the state Forensic Laboratory Fund that will be included in a supplemental budget proposal submitted to the Legislature.
“Thousands of victims have been waiting too long for the justice they deserve,” Snyder said, at a news conference Wednesday. “This initiative will start us on the path to find justice for these victims.”
This comes after 11,300 untested kits were found in 2009 in a Detroit police property storage room, representing evidence in thousands of rape investigations dating back as many as 25 years.
Scheutte said the scope of failure that allowed so many rape kits to go ignored is outrageous.
“Twice women were violated, once by the rape and second by the justice was put in a box; put on a shelf. That’s going to end now,” Scheutte said. ” … Today marks the beginning of healing closure and justice for women who’ve been brutalized.”
Worthy’s office now faces the challenge of build cases from evidence that could be more than two decades old.
She said they are prosecuting six cases already from the testing of these kits and have identified more than 30 serial rapists now in other states.
“Our first hurdle was finding the money to test these kits … and this is a huge down payment,” Worthy said. “I can’t tell you how grateful we are, in this business, to have this step forward. It’s bigger than huge.”
“I’m standing here with two people who think public safety is the more important function of government. I agree … that’s what I’m saying, and I hope that people are listening,” Worthy said.
The rape kits are about half the size of a small pizza box. They contain documentation, supplies for technicians, swabs and other items to collect samples. Nearly 10,000 rape kits still await review.
This latest come after, last year, Michigan State Police developed a new Sexual Assault Response Unit that was expected to speed up the process of testing rape kits.