By Justin Glawe for VICE. When 11 corpses were discovered in and around the Cleveland home of Anthony Sowell in the fall of 2009, there were some 4,000 untested rape kits being neglected by local cops. The deranged rapist and murderer was stopped, but his case exposed the stunning mishandling of missing persons and sexual assault cases in the city, a problem advocates argue has festered nationwide as the war on drugs has sucked up public safety dollars that might otherwise have gone toward putting rapists and killers behind bars.
“Sexual assault just isn’t at the top of the agenda,” says Ilse Knecht of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a sexual assault victim advocacy group.
She’s not the only one calling for a redirection of resources.
“We’ve been advocating that money be made available for robbery units, homicide units, sexual crime units,” said Neill Franklin, director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a national coalition of former police officers and criminal justice reform advocates. “How about using some of that money to analyze the rape kits that are sitting on shelves waiting to be looked at?”