Washington state gets $3M grant for rape-kit testing

Washington state will receive $3 million in federal grants to help authorities dig through the thousands of untested rape kits. The grant will also fund a new team to investigate sexual assaults from years ago.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative has a total of $34 million which was awarded to 20 jurisdictions across the country, The Seattle Times reported on Saturday.

Half of the fund will pay for the testing of 2,100 rape kits out of approximately 6,000 that are untested statewide. Many go untested due to lack of funding. Each kit costa roughly $700 a piece to test.

The kits are stored in evidence lockups at police departments across the state, containing forensic evidence gathered from the victim's clothing and body.

The money left over will be distributed over three years to fund an investigative team, including two full-time investigators. According to the state Attorney General's Office, the investigators will conduct and inventory of the untested kits and help prioritize the kits to be tested.

“The timing could not be better,” Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, said of the news last week.

The state has applied for the grant twice and was turned down both times. In wake of Domestic Violence Awareness month, the state now has the funding to conduct investigations on sexual assaults.

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