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DOJ rape kit initiative (copy)

When a victim of sexual assault chooses to file a police report and have the case prosecuted in court, forensic nurses do an exam to collect evidence for analysis and package it in a box like the one shown. The box is shipped to the state Crime Lab by police or nurses.

The state Department of Justice expects to have completed its efforts to test hundreds of untested sexual assault evidence kits within a year, Attorney General Brad Schimel said this week. 

"We feel confident with what we’ve put in place that by this time next year, we’ll have all the kits tested," Schimel said in an interview.

As of Dec. 1, the DOJ identified 6,386 untested kits, 4,030 of which are currently designated for testing. Results were confirmed for 347 kits, with 1,922 that have been tested and are awaiting confirmed results. 

The agency launched a website earlier this fall to track its testing progress. About a year ago, it launched a public information campaign designed to help sexual assault survivors track their kits and explore their options for DNA testing. 

DOJ had initially contracted with Bode Cellmark Forensics to test the majority of its kits. The lab faced "considerable capacity issues," but is catching up on its obligations, Schimel said. The state has since contracted with two more labs, he said: Sorenson Forensics and the Marshall University Forensic Science Center.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.