TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday he will seek $8.5 million to help process a backlog of about 11,000 untested rape kits when he submits next year’s budget proposal.
The money would be used to help Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime laboratories process the kits by providing new equipment and upgrading a DNA database, Scott’s office said in a press release.
“The $8.5 million investment we are announcing today is critical to giving innocent victims the answers they rightfully deserve, including the thousands of women who have been victims to absolutely horrific, violent crimes,” Scott said in the release.
The proposal will be part of the governor’s state budget proposal to be released later this year. The Legislature would have to approve the proposal and the money would be available after the new budget year begins July 1.
The FDLE recently asked for $35 million to hire more DNA analysts and pay them a competitive salary. The agency is conducting a study on the number of untested kits and will present the findings to the Legislature in January. The study is expected to cost more than $300,000.
Attorney General Pam Bondi held a news conference in September calling for more money to process rape kits and FDLE reported earlier this month that 10,900 rape kits from 262 agencies haven’t been processed. Seven agencies didn’t report data. It costs about $800 to $1,000 to test each kit.
Bondi issued a press release praising Scott’s proposal.
“Sexual assault is a horrific crime that has profound effects on its victims and processing these kits will unbind key DNA evidence linked to unsolved crimes in Florida and beyond,” Bondi said.