Roughly 450 sexual assault kits remain unprocessed in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas State Crime Lab is working to test nearly 450 sexual assault kits to clear up a backlog that could otherwise hinder investigations or slow the legal process.

DNA tests and laboratory reports are critical to law enforcement investigating sexual assaults.

KATV reports that the crime lab's executive director Kermit Channell says their goal is to send reports back to law enforcement within 60 days, but the backlog has led to reports taking up to six months.

Channell notes that the backlog is partially due to staffing issues. He also says the state had to process 1,300 old kits that were recovered in 2015. "These were kits that were sitting in law enforcement's hands that were never submitted to the laboratory. And they might not have been submitted to the laboratory for good investigative reasons," he told KATV.

He says the crime lab has the authority to expedite the processing of a kit on the request of an attorney.

The state crime lab and sexual assault victims can track the status of their rape kits in an online system.