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A backlog of 250 days in testing of "rape kits" at the state Division of Criminal Investigation crime lab in Ankeny should be unacceptable to not only victims of sexual assault, but to all Iowans.

A wait of eight to nine months, or longer, for results of a test during the investigation of a rape report isn't good enough. This state must do better.

This is no indictment of the crime lab because the lab is, in fact, stretched thin. Over the last four years, the lab's $6.4 million budget remained largely the same, but it saw an increase of more than 30 percent in requests from law enforcement agencies for analysis of evidence, including "rape kits."

A bill under discussion during this year's legislative session seeks to address the problem.

The legislation would provide additional funding for the crime lab, as well as for the state's court system, through an increase in court fees and fines. If passed, the bill would produce $2.1 million for the crime lab and $8.4 million to upgrade technology for the state's court system in the next fiscal year, according to an April 12 story from The Journal's Des Moines bureau.

We support the bill, which passed the Senate and awaits action in the House (the bill is before the House Ways and Means Committee). In tight times, this bill meets an important need related to funding without putting additional pressure on the state budget.

The crime lab would use new dollars next year to immediately hire and train between four and six criminalists, allowing the lab to reduce the 250-day backlog for testing of "rape kits" to 90 days within three years, the Journal bureau story reported.

That's a significant improvement.

And a goal this Legislature should meet.

Sioux City Journal, another Lee Enterprises publication, April 19.


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