Parkinson to introduce bill to end rape kit backlog - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Parkinson to introduce bill to end rape kit backlog

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Nashville has taken an interest in the problem of untested rape kits in Memphis and across the Volunteer State.

At least two Shelby County lawmakers plan to introduce bills to tackle the problem.

Justice is priceless, so to State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) $10 million doesn't seem like a lot. That's how much he wants to spend to build more labs and hire more technicians to process the untested kits.

Rep. Parkinson wants bipartisan support on his bill, but FOX13 News has learned some Democrats may use the opportunity to dig deeper to find out what went wrong , especially in Memphis.

DOWNLOAD: Read Rep. Parkinson's rape kit bill to be introduced
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He's behind bars and off the streets. DNA evidence collected from a rape kit helped prosecutors convict 37-year-old Jerald Jefferson of raping a 16-year-old high school girl in 2002.

 "We had a trial a few weeks ago that was a cold case that was solved through this very process," said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

The rape kit from the crime tested in 2004. It's not one of the thousands that left in storage at the Memphis Police Department and now costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars to process, an embarrassing problem that has some State lawmakers introducing bills to help.

"I think it is important that we take a team approach and solve the problem," Rep. Parkinson said, who has introduced a bill to spend more than $10 million to build new State labs and hire more technicians to process DNA kits.

Police departments would have 10 days to send the kits to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau would have six months to process them. TBI would also present a plan to lawmakers and attorneys general around the State to deal with the backlog of DNA kits, including the thousands in Memphis.

"The victims receive the vindication and justice they deserve, plain and simple," Rep. Parkinson said.

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