Governor Doug Ducey is setting aside money in his state budget to start testing hundreds of rape kits, which have been collecting dust in police evidence rooms for years.
As the ABC15 Investigators found, many local police agencies had policies not to test rape kits in cases where the suspect's identity was not in question.
Ducey's staff says the governor budgeted $500,000, which would pay for an independent lab to complete DNA testing of 400 to 1200 untested rape kits.
If the money is approved by the legislature, analysis could start sometime after July 1st.
The governor also appointed a task force this month to find out how many untested kits exist statewide and make suggestions to end the backlog entirely.
The group’s recommendations are due by October 1st and could lead to additional laws and funding next year. Experts suspect there are thousands of untested rape kits in Arizona, and it could cost millions of dollars to end the backlog.
“The governor is committed to moving this forward,” Ducey’s spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said. “As the committee starts doing their homework, we at least have the money to get this started.”
It’s unclear which of the untested rape kits would get priority processing. Supporters of the testing say it may help link previously unconnected sexual assault cases and result in new arrests.