Legislators Say There’s Good Reason For Delay In Rape Kit Money

(Memphis) Finger-pointing is in full force as anger mounts over the state’s decision to put off funding for untested rape kits.

Republican State Senator Mark Norris claims his Democratic colleague Jim Kyle was only pulling a stunt yesterday when he tried to get $2 million for the kits.

“We’re trying to take a systematic approach to the problem,” said Norris.

Norris says Senator Jim Kyle tried to change that approach at the last minute Thursday.

“We’ve been working on it all session and for that to come up this late is a move for show, not substance.”

Kyle introduced a budget add-on doling out $2 million across the state to test rape kits.

Norris put it off until 2015 because other cities are trying to figure out if they have a backlog.

“For somebody to suggest without more, that the general assembly should write a check to one city when there are victims all over this state is discriminatory quite frankly,” said Norris.

“Don’t be dismayed. We are not going to be deterred by anything and we will eventually get it done,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton in another promise about getting every single rap kit tested.

Right now, the city is trying to raise $6 million to get about 12,000 backlogged kits tested.

WREG was first to tell you about the backlog four years ago, but the city did not take action until late last year.

Now city officials are scrambling to raise millions of dollars to get all the kits tested.

The sooner there is money, the sooner the tests are done.

“We’ll pick up next year. We will seek Senator Norris’s approval next year when that inventory is done. Obviously the sooner the better,” said Mayor Wharton.

Until then, the TBI will continue testing about 25 new cases from Memphis every month, and that includes all new rape kits.

Wharton and Norris are working with national leaders to get federal money for the testing.

There is currently $35 million set aside in the federal budget to tackle untested rape kits, but that is being held up in the budget process.