Some Justice is Just Too Expensive

Maddening:

Back in 2009, over 11,000 kits were found abandoned in a Detroit Police storage facility. After processing just 1,600 of them so far, Detroit has identified about 100 serial rapists and ten convicted rapists. Those perpetrators have moved on from Michigan to commit similar crimes in 23 other states.

Of course, Detroit is not alone. Nationwide, there are an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits. […]

If every city with untested rape kits could get a couple of TSA agents to commandeer one of the SWAT team’s armored tanks to drive that evidence to the lab, maybe we could spend some of our Homeland Security money on something that will actually make us more secure.






40 replies
  1. 1

    Nationwide, there are an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits.

    Well, sure, we could spend money on hiring more technicians to process these kits, or we could buy some awesome surplus military gear and pose in front of it for the yearly calendar.

    We are so fucked up as a society.

  2. 2
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    If every city with untested rape kits could get a couple of TSA agents to commandeer one of the SWAT team’s armored tanks to drive that evidence to the lab, maybe we could spend some of our Homeland Security money on something that will actually make us more secure.

    Um, no. Actual outcomes are trumped by Kabuki every time. You have to appear to be doing something. Whether or not you actually ARE doing something is irrelevant.

  3. 3
    Mark S. says:

    You can use facts to prove anything that’s remotely true.

  4. 4
    🍀 Martin says:

    You know, there’s something to be said for running the trains on time.

    Waiting for the first troll to accuse me of advocating for fascism.

  5. 5
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    f every city with untested rape kits could get a couple of TSA agents to commandeer one of the SWAT team’s armored tanks to drive that evidence to the lab,

    That’s just crazy talk.

  6. 6
    Mike in NC says:

    Detroit has identified about 100 serial rapists and ten convicted rapists.

    So, 110 potential Republican Senators?

  7. 7
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    But that wouldn’t seem nearly as macho, unless they went real fast and showed weapons. I’d best not get started on this topic, as it won’t be good for my blood pressure.

  8. 8
    AMinNC says:

    Hire more science nerds to work on cases dealing with lady parts, or procure military hardware that will never actually be used but looks cool as all get out and makes one feel as manly as manly can be? No contest.

  9. 9
    LanceThruster says:

    Spread a rumor that the DNA might belong to furriners.

  10. 10
    BGinCHI says:

    Do those kits tell us what she was wearing?

  11. 11
    danimal says:

    @Mike in NC: Should make for some interesting primaries.

  12. 12
    scav says:

    Poor vigilantes for traditional gendered power relationships, upholding their threatened cultural mores in face of the wussification of the warrior. Allllll those complainy wimminz, going on and on and on about not getting “paid” equally and not getting “medical” stuff, blah blah blah, and then the complain again when the ideal warrior shows up with his mighty sword. Team SWAT is just choosing sides.

  13. 13
    Anton Sirius says:

    @AMinNC:

    Hire more science nerds to work on cases dealing with lady parts, or procure military hardware that will never actually be used we’ll have to find increasingly flimsy excuses to use but looks cool as all get out and makes one feel as manly as manly can be?

    FTFY

  14. 14
  15. 15
    daveNYC says:

    At least Detroit has the vague excuse of being broke as hell. There’s also the places that could have wrangled up the money for testing but just didn’t, and then there’s the issue of the various lab scandals.

    Infinitely easier to double-down on the War on Drugs. Because drugs are bad, m’kay. So don’t do drugs.

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:

    This is downright bizarre behavior. Successful prosecutions for serious felonies are a win for everyone involved in the process (with the obvious exception of the defendants). The only explanation that makes sense is simple misogyny.

  17. 17
    rm says:

    But, but on Law & Order: SVU I saw that the police care deeply about justice for rape victims and that rape kits are all processed immediately. How can this be?

  18. 18
    scav says:

    @burnspbesq: ‘Zactly, it’s easy-peasy once you note that you added the extra word “serious” in front of felony. It’s not a serious felony, no man felt he or his property was threatened, no ground need be stood. Now, some football player getting possibly gay-oogled in the shower-room, that’s not to be tolerated.

  19. 19
    piratedan says:

    @burnspbesq: well in Arizona, in Sheriff Joe’s jurisdiction, they cut to the chase by simply not bothering to investigate the incident if there’s a possible taint of melanin evident.

  20. 20
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    We can’t be hiring any additional technicians and such to do that kind of work. Them would be mooching gubmint employees, parasites on the glorious Randian, glibertarian world we’re moving toward.

    Instead, we must find a private firm that happens to be run by a good friend of the mayor/governor/president to outsource it to since we all know such a firm would be the model of efficiency and cost much less.

    Then find out in short order that the firm costs x3-5 as much to do the same work as a gubmint technician. That assumes the company even does the work. They’d most likely put most of the kits in a warehouse and still bill the entity for work done.

    Glibertarian paradise!

  21. 21
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Far as I can tell here in San Diego, given the number of local cops doing it, rape is not a crime. So what’s all the fuss for?

  22. 22
    Cassidy says:

    I learned in an earlier thread that justice and moral righteousness took a back seat to such silly things like the ACA and Lily Ledbetter. So what’s the problem? Some women were raped and their rape kits never processed. That would just be one more thing to stop us from prosecuting Bush and Cheney. Thems wimmens ain’t worth that.

  23. 23
    🍀 Martin says:

    @burnspbesq:

    The only explanation that makes sense is simple misogyny.

    Nah. Simple bureaucratic incompetence. I’d bet there’s one guy in Detroit responsible for getting those rape kits tracked and sent off to the lab. I’d bet that guy got laid off, and his boss laid off, or possibly the entire unit closed, and the task assigned to someone new. The new guy either never got trained (because the previous people were laid off) or adding the responsibility to their job was simply overwhelming. At some point you underfund/understaff/misallocate to such a degree that you throw up your arms and determine that when given 80 hours of work to do in a 40 hour day, that some things simply won’t get done. This was the stuff that didn’t get done. That happens all. the. time. You yell and scream for resources, you document the consequences, the folks that hand out the money ignore you, and you lay the blame at their feet.

  24. 24
    kindness says:

    But those tanks look so awesome during small town parades. Riding a float of used and not yet tested rape boxes is so much less macho.

  25. 25
    Peter says:

    @Cassidy: You are a real piece of shit, you know that?

  26. 26
    dollared says:

    You would think a political party that seeks to 1) show itself as a champion of women and 2) show itself as supporting law and order could take some sort of action.

    Maybe if that party had a senior official in charge of, I don’t know, a Department of Justice or a Department of Homeland Security?

    Maybe?

  27. 27
    dollared says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: You may have hit on the problem. Do you think they keep police officer DNA on file?

  28. 28
    Cassidy says:

    @Peter: Go choke on a dick.

  29. 29
    gian says:

    I presume that kits are not done and stored if there’s no value for an investigation. (The common line to explain the situation is to say they’re not tested because they’re of no value)
    I expect it’s a mix of local government austerity and maybe priority to murder cases. I would like to know if there is a similar backlog in murder cases. If there is that would point more towards a lack of resources in general.

  30. 30
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Great video. Wow, if Wisc pols don’t like the comparisons to Soviet Putinist Russia maybe they should stop prosecuting people for singing in the capitol building.

  31. 31
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @burnspbesq:

    This is downright bizarre behavior. Successful prosecutions for serious felonies are a win for everyone involved in the process (with the obvious exception of the defendants). The only explanation that makes sense is simple misogyny.

    You have a short memory, burnsy. These rape kits and other physical evidence led to numerous exonerations especially of people of color (but some whites, too) who were prosecuted during the “law & order/war on drugs” 1980s and early 1990s. THOSE PROSECUTORS HAD TO LITERALLY RETIRE OR DIE before systemic DNA testing could go into place AND ESPECIALLY to touch the backlog or do testing for people appealing their convictions.

    THEY WERE FUCKING PROTECTING DIRTY PROSECUTORS the kind who hide evidence from the defense as well as DIRTY COPS who procure convenient “witnesses” so they can get a collar and don’t care because “they’re all guilty of something–I take bad guys off the streets”.

  32. 32
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @🍀 Martin: lol, now Detroit had a mayor who was being prosecuted himself, and someone in the PD helped him put out a hit on a stripper–

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K.....misconduct

    They never proved anything but he put the PD into chaos, I can tell that by just skimming the Wiki article and, hell, there was a lot of other stuff too, stuff that eventually put him in prison.

    Gah, what a angel-faced crook. Maybe that’s how he got away with it for so long.

  33. 33
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @dollared: I’m sure the PD has their DNA and prints because they have to exclude the investigators when they do testing on crime scene items, but, yeah, they probably don’t just drop them in CODIS.

    I think the military does that, though. That is, they’ve got everybody who’s in in their own database.

  34. 34
    WaterGirl says:

    @🍀 Martin: I’ve had that job!

    Edit: I’d like to add that way too many people forget to call it to someone’s attention, document that, and lay it at their feet if you don’t get the resources you need.

  35. 35
    NorthLeft12 says:

    From the linked story:

    “A couple weeks ago, the White House announced they’d devote $35 million in next year’s budget to grants for processing unopened kits. We’ll be watching closely to see if congressional Republicans block that modest effort to help communities bring rapists to justice and prevent sexual violence.”

    Let’s face it, there is no way the Rethugs will support this in the House. They will justify their NO votes that it is a waste of money, and by the way we will vote for it if you add these minor attachments. Ie. Tax cuts for the 0.5%, sanctions against Iran, and repeal Obamacare.

  36. 36
    Trollhattan says:

    How awesome is Mariska Hargitay and how messed up is it that it takes an activist actress to address this pathetic lack of will to bring criminals to justice?

    As to getting funding for a national effort through the House? “We need to offset the costs with cuts elsewhere–like food stamps!” “What were those “victims” wearin’ and were they really askin’ for it?”

    Rinse, repeat.

  37. 37
    burnspbesq says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    At some point you underfund/understaff/misallocate to such a degree that you throw up your arms and determine that when given 80 hours of work to do in a 40 hour day, that some things simply won’t get done.

    OK, but when that happens, how you prioritize is telling, and “bitchez to the back of the line” is especially telling.

  38. 38
    🍀 Martin says:

    @burnspbesq:

    OK, but when that happens, how you prioritize is telling, and “bitchez to the back of the line” is especially telling.

    True. And I lead with incompetence and I’m not going to shy from that. It’s incompetence if it was some clerk or if it was the police chief. But it does beg the question – are rape kits the only things not getting processed? I wouldn’t be so sure. If there was a warehouse with additional unprocessed evidence – swabs, etc. I’d definitely lead with the rape kits because it would be certain to outrage the public.

    IOW, don’t overlook the potential for the story being spun in way to make it look more like a bias against women in order to get action, rather than a broad-based failure to process evidence. We’ve been failing to process evidence for death row inmates for years, so its less likely the more generic story would get traction. It’s long been true that prostate cancer is just as common and as lethal as breast cancer, but you’d never conclude that from how its presented to the public. It’s a bias of communication, not of effect, done out of recognition that the bias resonates with the public. Let’s not completely ignore the presentation here:

    “It was mind blowing to me,” said Hargitay that so many rape kits have gone unprocessed. “My head exploded.. We have the means to do it and DNA equals justice.”

    Hargitay, best known for her role as Sergeant Olivia Benson on the television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has also become an advocate for real life victims of sex crimes. She founded the Joyful Heart Foundation that works to “heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.”

    Of course the presentation is going to focus on rape kits. That’s the motivation behind the organization. Was that all that went unprocessed? That’s not clear.

    OTOH, I suspect that rape kits are processed via an entirely different mechanism based on how they are collected from the hospital. I don’t think that’s a typical vector for evidence, and because it’s likely handled differently leads me to think that it’s an administrative failure but not necessarily gender biased. To conclude that definitively, you’d need a comparable evidence vector for men that was being processed effectively. I don’t think one exists. That’s not an excuse for them not being processed, just a diagnosis for why they might not be.

    Or you might be dead on and the higher ups just determined that a bunch of loose women trying to get back at their one-night-stand weren’t worth budgeting for.

    They should be doing more than just passing new laws, someone needs to be held accountable for why this happened and explain what lead to it.

  39. 39
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    Getting held accountable for anything these days rarely seems to happen, particularly at the highest levels. Whether it be in the public or private sector. So much for taking responsibility for ones actions.

  40. 40
    someguy says:

    You don’t want to go testing those rape kits now. You do that, you’re going to wipe out most major football, basketball and lacrosse teams, most fraternities, plus half the boardrooms of the Fortune 500. And based on Republican reactions, about half the Republican rank and file. Bastards.

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