New Hampshire state Representative Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) says that his state’s government is unable to track the number of untested rape kits piling up in evidence lockers at police stations across the state and that rapists may be avoiding prosecution as a result.
“We don’t know how many rape kits in the state of New Hampshire have gone untested. There may be rapists at large,” Rep. Renny Cushing told The Associated Press.
Tim Pifer, director of the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory, said that the lab only has 7 untested rape kits in its backlog, which he characterized as a “very low” number, but admitted that he is not sure whether local police have been sending all of their untested kits to the lab.
[RELATED: N.H. Governor Signs Bill Granting Immunity for Victims, Witnesses Reporting Drug Overdoses]
The National Institute for Justice gives New Hampshire’s Department of Safety a $250,000 grant each year to help the state meet the costs involved in testing evidence associated with alleged incidents of rape.
The New Hampshire Department of Safety’s website notes that the State Police Forensic Laboratory is “the sole provider of traditional forensic laboratory services in New Hampshire” and that it “receives and analyzes evidence from over 220 city and town police departments, nine state law enforcement agencies including the State Police, ten county sheriffs departments, numerous city and town fire departments, and, on occasion, federal law enforcement agencies conducting criminal investigations in the state.”
[RELATED: New Hampshire Library Victorious In Internet Privacy Debate]
Rep. Cushing, who serves on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, has proposed tasking the Department of Public Safety’s commissioner with keeping an inventory of the untested rape kits, a process that would include contacting each local police department and making sure that they have submitted all of them.
A May 2011 National Institute for Justice report on untested rape kits asserts, “Delays in evidence being sent to a lab — as well as delays in analyzing evidence — result in delays in justice. In worst-case scenarios, this can lead to additional victimization by serial offenders or the incarceration of people wrongly convicted of a crime.“