All around the state, evidence from sexual assault cases sits untested. Per capita, New Mexico’s backlog of sexual assault evidence kits is the worst in the nation, according to our state auditor. Most of those kits are in Albuquerque. Even though legislators have passed measures about the backlog, and Mayor Richard Berry proposed putting $1 million toward shrinking it, advocates say it’s getting worse every month.
Nurses collect 20 sexual assault evidence kits every month on average and send them to the Albuquerque Police Department. Analysts there are processing four or five in a month. So that means the backlog gets 15-kits longer every month.
These numbers come from Connie Monahan, the co-chair of the state’s task force that’s been charged with addressing the backlog. She said APD is stretched thin and trying to go in too many directions at once. "Everything is in crisis mode these days," she said. "It’s like they can’t even keep up with current demands coming from the DA for active prosecutions. So how can they think about 4,000 kits behind them?"
It’s time to make a concrete plan, Monahan said. The Department of Public Safety in Santa Fe, which also has a backlog, made a commitment to clear it within two years if there’s enough funding. Monahan said APD needs to make that kind of commitment, too.