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Maryland Loses Chance at Federal Funding for Untested Rape Kits

For the third year in a row, Maryland was not awarded any assistance from a federal funding program that would help process a large backlog of untested rape kits in the state. According to The Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore County Police Department applied for the federal grant the first two years and was denied both times, without any explanation as to why the denial was issued.

This time around, the police department even had several Maryland legislators write a letter supporting the application to help test these old rape kits, some of which have been sitting for decades.

The U.S. Justice Department announced $34 million in grants this month, but no Maryland jurisdiction was among those who were allocated any financial resources. This year’s summary of denial seems to allege the grant application was incomplete and the police department needs to provide more details, like goals and objectives.

Thousands of Untested Rape Kits in Maryland

You might be wondering if this is a big issue in Maryland? The answer is yes. In 2017, the State Attorney General’s Office released an audit report showing there are at least 3,700 untested kits in Maryland. More than 90% of these untested rape kits were in the custody of 13 of the 102 responding agencies. The agencies that have the most untested kits are:

  • Montgomery County Police Department
  • Baltimore City Police Department
  • Howard County Police Department
  • Ann Arundel County Police Department
  • Baltimore County Police Department
  • Frederick Police Department
  • Harford County Sheriff’s Office
  • Prince George’s County Police Department
  • Carroll County Sherriff’s Office
  • Calvert County Sheriff’s Office
  • Salisbury Police Department

Why Some Rape Kits are Not Tested

You might be wondering why all rape kits are not tested; however, there is no law on the books that requires Maryland law enforcement departments to test or track rape kits. After the initial survey in 2015 showed this massive black log of untested kits, the Office of the Attorney General sent a follow-up survey. They reached out to agencies who had more than 50 untested kits to determine why some departments declined to test certain kits. Reasons for not testing included:

  • Identity of suspect known
  • Allegations unfounded
  • Victim signed no prosecution form/refused to prosecute
  • Suspect admitted to consensual sex
  • State’s Attorney declined to prosecute
  • Case held for post-conviction
  • Case occurred in another jurisdiction
  • Suspect pled guilty
  • False report
  • Anonymous/Jane Doe kit
  • Missing records
  • Analysis not needed for prosecution per State’s Attorney

Why Rape Kits Matter

For victims, it may be perceived as a slap in the face that they went through the time to report the matter to the police and spent hours undergoing an uncomfortable exam. In cases in which the suspect pleads guilty, that rape kit can be important for other matters as well. Rapists are often guilty of other crimes, anything from a misdemeanor burglary to a felony armed robbery. Having their DNA in the system can be critical to helping solve other unsolved crimes.

When to Call a Maryland Attorney

If you are the victim of a rape, there may be additional civil recourse available to you. Or, you may need assistance from a Maryland family law attorney in order to get a protective order in some cases. Please contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-705-5137 today to schedule a consultation.