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New Requirements Compounding Oklahoma's Sexual Assault Kit Backlog

The number of sexual assault kits waiting to be tested by DNA analysts is growing because of a requirement for police to send kits in for testing.

The rate at which kits are coming in has tripled. The state was already trying to clear more than 3,000 backlogged kits.

The backlog was years in the making. Law enforcement agencies for various reasons didn’t always submit kits to the state crime lab for testing.

The state Legislature tried to fix that problem in 2019. Lawmakers approved a group of bills which included a requirement that, if victims’ didn’t object, police must submit kits for testing within 20 days of receiving them.

Now, in addition to the old backlog there are more than 1200 new kits waiting to be tested that were collected within the last three years.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s Assistant Director of Criminalistics Services Andrea Fielding estimates it will take 3-5 years to clear the old backlog and also several years to clear the new one that started piling up in 2019.

Quinton joined the team at StateImpact Oklahoma in 2017, focusing on criminal justice reporting. He is an OSU grad with degrees in Economics and Marketing who got his start in radio at KOSU. After graduation, Quinton served as Morning Edition Host/General Assignment Reporter at KBBI Radio in Homer, Alaska and Education Reporter at KTOO Public Media in Juneau, Alaska. Quinton loves writing, reading and has an intense relationship with his Netflix account.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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