Murray Secures Funding to Speed Up DNA Testing Times in Unsolved Rape Cases

Jun 28 2007

Funding will help return DNA results in stranger rape cases in 30 days rather than months or years

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced she has provided $200,000 to help continue a Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) program that is reducing the wait time for DNA test results in unsolved, no suspect rape cases. Because of backlogs, it used to take months or even years to test DNA from unsolved rape cases. Under the WASPC program, DNA is being tested within days of the crime and results are being released within 30 days of testing. Senator Murray included the funding in the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee today. Senator Murray is a member of the Appropriations Committee. 

"Waiting for years to get the results of DNA tests in an unsolved rape case is simply unacceptable," said Senator Murray. "I am so pleased to support WASPC's effort to expedite the DNA test process so we can get dangerous criminals off of our streets and aid the healing process for survivors."

Under the pilot program, Washington state law enforcement agencies will be directed to submit biological evidence for DNA testing within days of a rape. Instead of sitting on shelves behind a backlog of tests in other prioritized cases, the DNA evidence is then quickly sent to a laboratory in Dallas. The evidence is tested there and the results are returned within 30 days The test results are compared to known suspects and given to the Washington State Patrol so they can be compared to state and national DNA databases.

Donald G. Pierce, Executive Director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs praised Senator Murray's work to support the program:

"This funding will allow this valuable program to continue. In its’ first year, this program has proven effective in apprehending and prosecuting “stranger” rapists. The quick turnaround DNA program gets the DNA analyzed in 30 days and then loaded into a national database for comparison. Senator Murray's support for this program will have a positive impact on public safety in Washington State.

This program has already helped in the conviction of a rapist and has provided the evidence to free someone who was wrongly accused.  This program works!"

Washington state is presently estimated to have 500 stranger rape cases per year.

After passing the full Appropriations Committee today, the CJS Appropriations bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.