Last year, we called on the Missouri Highway Patrol to redouble its efforts to address the problem of a growing number of untested rape kits at the patrol's crime lab.
So we were pleased to see Tuesday's news the Missouri Attorney General's office has received a $2 million federal grant to continue testing the state's backlog of untested sexual assault kits.
Our Tuesday report said the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance grant of $2 million will allow for the inventory of untested kits at police departments and hospitals to be updated — to include kits collected from April 2018 to April 2020 — and get an estimated 900 more untested kits to a private lab in Virginia for testing.
Last week, the state Attorney General's office also said it will allow more personnel to help law enforcement and prosecutors investigate and prosecute suspect DNA matches and any resulting cases.
A private lab will continue testing, so the Missouri Highway Patrol does not get overwhelmed.
The state previously received a $2.8 million grant from the DOJ, which enabled 1,500 kits to be tested.
Submitting to a rape test is invasive and time-consuming. We suspect many victims don't go through the process because they feel that, ultimately, justice won't be served and that it's not worth the humiliation.
That's unfortunate. We need to send a message to victims that they should report sexual assault, and that our state will make every effort to investigate the crime and make sure justice is done.
Making sure rape kids are tested, which is typically needed for a conviction, is an essential part of this process.