Council Members Agree To Fund Housing Testing For Backlogged Rape Kits

Council Members Agree To Fund Housing Testing For Backlogged Rape Kits

Some women in Memphis and Shelby County have been waiting as long as a quarter of a century for justice after being raped.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - Some women in Memphis and Shelby County have been waiting as long as a quarter of a century for justice after being raped.

More than 7,000 rape kits in Memphis and the county are still waiting to be tested.

City council members listened to the troubles and promised to not only find money, but build a climate controlled storage area.

“Our count as of now is seven thousand sixty eight kits,” Toney Armstrong of the Memphis Police Department said.

The politicians wanted to make it clear. This is a nationwide problem. As if that would make any of the 7,000 rape victims waiting on the test results feel better.

“This is not like a Memphis issue. It's an issue that a lot of cities are grappling with,” Kemp Conrad of the Memphis City Council said.

The backlog started years ago. Right now rape victims are getting their kits tested immediately. But the new tests are a lot different than the old ones and that's one of the reasons thousands remain untested.

“What law enforcement can gather is changing. And as technology and science is changing we have to catch up. Rest assured Memphis police and this office have been working through this backlog since 2010,” Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said.

Council members agreed to take about $1 million from one fund and instead spend it on a climate controlled room where rape kits can be stored.

They also agreed to kick in $500,000 for testing by private labs.

The two women on council, Janis Fullilove and Wanda Halbert, listened to what was going on through a speaker phone.

Their absence was noticed by former councilwoman Tajuan Stout-Mitchell.

“Thank you and I just want to say I'm disappointed that the women who represent me on this council are not present,” Mitchell said.

Janis Fullilove and Wanda Halbert never mentioned why they weren't at the meeting.
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