Contra Costa County DA announces end to untested rape kit backlog

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Contra Costa County DA announces end to untested rape kit backlog
Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton and staff attended an event in New York City Monday, March 12, to announce the end of the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Contra Costa County.

The backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Contra Costa County has ended, District Attorney Diana Becton announced Monday.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office managed to clear its backlog by participating in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program, a three-year grant program to test sexual assault kits.

Using grants totaling about $1.84 million, the DA’s Office was able to test 1,246 kits since 2015. Testing the kits allows DNA evidence from assaults to be uploaded to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, an important tool used to identify and investigate and identifying offenders.

Of the 1,246 kits tested, 182 new DNA profiles were entered into CODIS. Of them, there were 51 offender hits linking cases to already-known offenders, and 121 confirmatory hits, where the perpetrator was already tried for the assault but the kit had not been tested. Also, eight cases were reopened for further review.

To make clearing the backlog possible, 24 law enforcement agencies in the county passed along untested kits to the DA’s office, which then sent the kits to Sorenson Forensics in Utah.

Becton said her office will continue to coordinate with the county’s law enforcement agencies to ensure timely testing of kits, as California law requires they are tested within a specified time frame.

“I want to express my gratitude for our partners working with our Office to end the backlog,” Becton said. “Testing these kits can help bring closure and justice to sexual assault victims. We are going to continue working on this issue to ensure we never have a backlog in our community again.”

Overall, the Manhattan District Attorney’s program tested 55,242 kits nationwide which resulted in 18,803 DNA profiles uploaded into the FBI’s database.

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