From backlogged rape kits to piles of crime scene evidence going untouched for months on end, things at the Illinois State Crime Lab are not looking good.
The father of a teen rape victim worries because he is told that his daughter’s rape kit will take up to four months to process, while Chief Judge of Cook County’s Circuit Court, Timothy Evans worries about witnesses disappearing and justice being delayed. The problems are prevalent and a crisis is looming.
Delays Throughout all of the State’s Crime Labs
According to Chief Judge Evans, there is a backlog of about 9,000 cases in Cook County alone. It is now taking 238 days, on average, to complete firearms testing and testing on rape kits is taking about 280 days. There are now nearly 3,400 backlogged rape kits.
The seven state police crime labs across the state all had delays, with Chicago coming in first in delays. Recent reports show that 2,142 firearm/toolmark cases were delayed for at least four months. That’s an increase from 1,809 last year.
Limited Resources and an Abundance of New Cases Perpetuating the Problem
An Illinois State Police spokesman said that delays are due to limited resources and the large number of cases that come in every day. More than 395 new cases are introduced to the State’s crime labs on a daily basis. And, although cases deemed high-priority are turned over in a matter of days or hours, delays for all other cases can be expensive.
Chief Judge Evans said that he is currently with law enforcement and the State crime labs’ forensic scientists to find ways to alleviate the delays and increase turnaround time for crime testing.