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Politics

Florida State Attorney Candidate Calls For Funding To Test Rape Kits

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A candidate for Florida State Attorney is calling on leaders and lawmakers to find the funding to process what he calls a backlog of untested rape kits in Duval County.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says there is no backlog, because the untested kits weren’t needed in cases where the victim was unwilling to prosecute, or when they had a confession from an identified suspect.

The state attorney’s office announced recently that it has applied for a $2 million federal grant to process approximately 2,000 rape kits. Some of which haven’t been touched for as long as 20 years.

But state attorney candidate Wes White says federal funding is the wrong way to go in solving this issue.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” White talked about how he would solve the backlog if he were state attorney.

White says the people of Nassau, Clay and Duval Counties should never be in a position where they feel like they have to turn to the federal government for funding.

“The federal government is broke, and again it’s a question of priorities,” White said. “If we’re [going to] take care of our own, we need to reach into our pockets and pay for it, and be willing to pay for it.”

White says he wants to see legislation passed that will find funding in order to get the rape kits processed immediately.

“It’s a violent crime, and it needs to be given the priority that it deserves,” White said.

He also says he would like to establish a procedure that requires all tests to be processed within 48 or 72 hours after they are completed.

“I’ve seen so many things which I believe destroy the public’s confidence in the office of the state attorney,” White said. “It has to stop, and it has to be turned around, and I believe I can do it.”

White says it’s important to provide emotional and mental health resources to victims of sexual assault, but more needs to be done.

“I believe taking care of our victims is critical, but on the other hand my focus is going to be equally on preventing victims from ever happening.”

White says he did not know about the untested rape kits until he saw media reports.

“Now that I know about this problem, I’m going to deal with it and I’m going to bring it to the forefront, and I’m not going to take no for an answer,” White said.

Listen to the full conversation with Wes White on Monday’s episode of the “First Coast Connect” podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.