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DOJ announces backlog of Wisconsin rape kits nearly completely tested

Attorney General Brad Schimel announced Monday the state has now tested more than 4100 rape kits since he took office in 2015, clearing a backlog that went back to 1984.

Schimel said completing testing on the state’s backlog of rape kits is more than just a milestone.

“It’s about bringing justice for survivors. It’s about preventing future crimes. And it’s about changing the culture around responding to sexual assault.”

The announcement comes two months ahead of the November election. Schimel’s opponent Josh Kaul says the Department of Justice took too long to test the kits, despite having similar resources to states that moved faster.

“In the first two and a half years, Portland tested three times as many kits as Wisconsin had, and Nevada tested twice as many. So because of brad schimel’s delays, there has been a delay in getting justice for people.”

The backlog was created long before Schimel took office in 2015, in part because local law enforcement did not bring kits to the DOJ.

Schimel  says thousands of kits were too much for the state’s crime labs to handle alone.

“The system nationwide, between public crime laboratories and private forensic labs, nobody had the capacity to do this any more quickly.”

Less than half the backlog had been tested by the end of May. The DOJ sped up the process after hiring two private labs and a university with federal grant money.

Schimel says to survivors who waited decades for their kit to be tested, he is sorry.

“We are apologizing to them," Schimel said. "And that’s long overdue.”

There are three pending prosecutions as a result of the testing. Schimel says,  now that the back log is cleared, kits will be tested as soon as a survivor is ready to move forward.

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