By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Vice President Joe Biden and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch joined Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance last Thursday to announce $38 million in grants that will be going to states across the country to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits.
The announcement about the grant money, which came from an initiative by the Manhattan DA’s office, was made at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on First Avenue and East 26th Street last Thursday. There, Biden and Lynch also took the opportunity to announce the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s separate but complementary grant program that awards $41 million in federal funding for the testing of sexual assault kits, for a total of $80 million in funding to address the national rape kit backlog.
The initiative from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office awarded grants to 32 jurisdictions in 20 states to test an estimated 56,475 rape kits and the initiative from BJA, known as the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (“SAKI”) Grant Program, is expected to test about 13,500 sexual assault kits in 20 jurisdictions.