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New Requirements Compounding Oklahoma's Sexual Assault Kit Backlog

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The number of sexual assault kits waiting to be tested by DNA analysts is growing in Oklahoma because of a requirement for police to send kits in for testing.

The rate at which kits are coming in has tripled. The state was already trying to clear more than 3,000 backlogged kits.

The backlog was years in the making. Law enforcement agencies for various reasons didn’t always submit kits to the state crime lab for testing.

The state Legislature tried to fix that problem in 2019. Lawmakers approved a group of bills which included a requirement that, if victims’ didn’t object, police must submit kits for testing within 20 days of receiving them.

Now, in addition to the old backlog, there are more than 1,200 new kits waiting to be tested that were collected within the last three years.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s Assistant Director of Criminalistics Services Andrea Fielding estimates it will take three to five years to clear the old backlog and also several years to clear the new one that started piling up in 2019.

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