(Memphis) After years of leaving crucial DNA evidence gathered from rape victims on a shelf, Mayor A C Wharton now wants Memphis police to create a plan of action to deal with the nearly 7,000 rape kits that are untested and sitting on shelves.
"This started because of delays in those kits but there all types of evidence and this focuses on everything that's needed to effectively prosecute a sexual assault victim's case," Wharton said.
Meaghan Ybos is a rape survivor. She feels any new police procedures will be a welcome change to how victims have been treated in the past.
"It does a world of good even just talking about it is so helpful even that it's on the communities radar this being in the news helps survivors feel like they matter, Ybos said.
Recently, clues revealed by tested DNA evidence led police to a suspect not only in ybos' case, but six other rapes.
Anthony Alliano pleaded guilty to raping seven women and sentenced to 178 years in prison earlier this year.
Not every DNA strand may name a suspect, but it gives police a tool to solving a rape case.
To make sure more cases are solved, Mayor Wharton's plan includes:
- timely notification to rape victims of developments in their cases
- establishing clear policies and procedures for prompt processing of rape kits
- monthly status updates to the mayor and public safety committee
Anna Whalley works with rape survivors and hopes the changes encourage more victims to come forward.
"Victims can always use communication about their case because knowledge is power and by getting that power they feel a bit more control over an uncontrollable situation that has happened to them," Whalley said.