MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The TBI is now reaching out for help as it tries to shrink a massive backlog of rape kits at its crime labs.
The state is under pressure to act following the killing of Eliza Fletcher back in September. The man charged with her murder has a violent history and the TBI had his DNA on a shelf for nearly a year before testing the evidence.
The case revealed it’s not an isolated incident.
Thousand rape kits are waiting to be tested so the TBI is now offering multiple contracts.. worth up to $ 2 million to any companies that can help test them.
Earlier this year, Governor Bill Lee took steps to expand hiring at state crime labs but the TBI is urging him to do even more.
Just last month, the bureau’s director asked the governor for a $45 million budget increase to help boost staffing in forensic labs. He says part of the problem is low pay.
“Salary modernization is going to impact all of this because we’re still seeing the challenge of being able to hire people at the salary we offer for the positions that are not comparative when you look somewhere else – especially in forensics,” David Rausch said.
The TBI’s budget plan shows that its pay for scientists and investigators is far below what those workers can make in other states or forensic labs.