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DNA Rape Kit Backlog, Release of Prisoners to be Hot Topics at City Public Safety Panel Today [Updated]

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Photo by seantoyer via Flickr

Photo by seantoyer via Flickr
Thousands of rape kits waiting to be DNA tested and the ominous threat that 40,000 prisoners will be released onto the streets are expected to be dominating issues at today's Public Safety Committee of the Los Angeles City Council.

Back in the fall of 2008, nearly 7,000 rape kits sat on LAPD evidence shelves waiting to be tested for DNA. The unwieldy backlog gained the public's attention and the LAPD admitted that, yes, there was, indeed, a problem. About a year later, the backlog shrank by more than half.

This morning, a number of rape kit-related issues will be discussed, including a verbal report by LAPD officials in regards to the most recent City Controller audit (.pdf), accusing the department of inconsistent record keeping. Additionally, three other motions about outsourced testing, funding and the overall effort to reduce the backlog, will be discussed.

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Last week, the Supreme Court delayed the decision over hearing an appeal from California regarding a lower court decision forcing the state to the release 40,000 inmates--some 6,000 in the Los Angeles area alone--because of overcrowding led to lack of healthcare for inmates. The delay means the prison-release order, which was supposed to begin today, is also on hold.

However, police departments around the state are preparing for the release. LAPD officials will give a report to the committee on their strategies in dealing with the release of prisoners.

Update: It looks like prisoner releases in fact do begin today.