Federal grant could cut down on rape kit backlog - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Federal grant could cut down on 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) -

The city of Memphis is hoping to make some headway with its mounting problem of more than 12,000 untested rape kits, more than any other city in the country.

City officials are hoping for help from the feds to get justice for rape victims. The White House announced Wednesday a federal grant worth millions could save the day. Thirty-five million dollars in federal grant money could be up for grabs if Congress passes a budget that includes it.       

That money could go a long way in tackling those 12,000 untested rape kits here in Memphis. 

We've been told before it'll take an estimated six million dollars to test our rape kits, but we're up against every other city in America to get that grant money.  

"We're not making excuses, we're just moving ahead," Mayor AC Wharton said. 

As 12,000 untested rape kits sit collecting dust, several rape survivors continue to be left in the dark, unable to take those steps forward to get justice. 

But now there may be a ray of hope for each of them in the form of $35 million in federal grant money. But will Memphis be the city to get some of it? 

"I think what the White House is going to look for is what have you done on your own, don't just come to us and expect us to bail you out," Mayor Wharton said. 

He added the city has already done a lot on its own to prove to Washington it'll do the right thing with any money that comes its way.

"The city council has done its part, they came up and said here's a million dollars, before that the police department came up with $500,000, the state came up with $500,000," Wharton said, "We've taken that first step so we're in a good position to get something done." 

But now it's about keeping that momentum going. 

"We're bringing in the best and brightest, the Joyful Heart Foundation, which has dealt with this across the country," Wharton said, "We're opening everything up, we're not holding anything back." 

City officials say they also have the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County District Attorney's Office, and local advocacy groups working on the problem, and they're hoping it'll be enough to get at least some of that federal grant money to at least start solving this problem. 

"We're processing kits right now, with a few more resources, we're going to get all of them," Mayor Wharton said.  

The money isn't a sure thing just yet. Congress would still need to pass a federal budget for next year that includes this grant. Then the Department of Justice would be in charge of deciding where that money will go. 

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