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News

A Look into the LAPD's Rape-Kit Process

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Photo by DimsumDarren via Flickr

Although everyone can agree that it's unacceptable to have a backlog of 7,000 rape-kits over at the LAPD, the reality is resources, as in money. Who is to blame? Well, the politicians are at odds over that one, though in the end, there are a lot of factors from councilmembers, past and present, mayors and the LAPD. In the meantime, the Daily News looks into the sometimes long process to analyze just one rape-kit. It's never like a one-hour TV show:

A simple DNA test of one vaginal swab can take a week, and that's a quick case. But they're rarely that easy... The kit's route begins inside a designated hospital, where specialized nurses take samples from a victim - everything from vaginal fluids to blood to hair to saliva. And investigators can add clothes, bedsheets or other fabrics.

[The analyst] must first find evidence of DNA in that kit before another analyst can identify it.

The tedious process can take hours, sometimes days. In the case of a simple sample, he must isolate cell material by slicing off pieces of evidence, then placing it into a tube the size of a pen cap. Through a series of processes, he extracts the material. If he's lucky, there's cell evidence somewhere in his sample.

And that's
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