In 2009, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office located more than 11,000 untested rape kits in a police warehouse in Detroit. One of the biggest problems Kym Worthy, the Wayne County Prosecutor, faced was a lack of funding. Even after receiving federal and state grants of over $5 million, Worthy still felt that the investigation and processing of all the untested rape kits would cost an additional $10 million. Regardless of money constraints, the prosecutor’s office has been working at double speed on these untested kits.
As of May 1, 2017, there have been over 92 convictions from evidence tied to the first batch of kits. The kits are being tested in batches due to time and money restrictions. Over 1,640 kits have been investigated and closed in the first batch, and there are currently over 330 open investigations. This still leaves roughly 950 cases in the first batch awaiting investigation.
This issue of untested rape kits is not unique to Detroit. Untested kits are being found all over the country. Law & Order: SVU actress Mariska Hargitay follows the story in an upcoming documentary titled I Am Evidence. It will expose the high numbers of untested kits around the country, the work done by prosecutors on rape kits, and the impact this has had on victims of sexual assault. The HBO documentary will feature Worthy’s and other U.S. prosecutors’ efforts, as well as stories from survivors of sexual assault.