Virginia's attorney general has announced more than 1,000 rape kits will be tested as a part of a $3.4 million project to completely eliminate the state’s backlog of untested rape kits.
A federal grant of $2 million will allow the state to test 1,247 rape kits collected between 2014 and 2016, according to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General.
"I hope survivors see that we are turning the page from an old approach that failed to meet our public safety goals or our obligations to survivors, to one that makes communities safer and helps survivors on a path to healing and justice," Attorney General Mark Herring said in a release Thursday.
Once a rape kit has been sent to a lab, the results are given to the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, which is the national DNA database. Police in the municipality where the kit was collected are then notified if the DNA matches any previous offenders.
In 2016, the state began the first phase in the project to test more than 2,000 kits from before 2014. Some of those kits are almost three decades old.
More than 1,000 of the kits that have gone to the lab have resulted in at least 44 DNA matches, the attorney general's office said.
"The progress we've made so far, including the identification of these remaining kits, shows that we're keeping up the momentum on this project,” Herring said. “I'm not going to stop until every single kit gets tested, survivors know the result, and each case gets a fresh look. It's what survivors deserve, and it's what justice and public safety require."
The $2 million federal grant will allow the commonwealth to invest in additional resources to improve rape kit tracking, speed up testing and support survivors with a new specialist in the Office of Attorney General.
According to the attorney general's office, the grant will also strengthen prosecutions with the latest specialized training for Virginia law enforcement.