Gov. Lee announces additional support to TBI to reduce backlog for sexual assault kits

Governor Bill Lee announced plans to hire 25 additional lab jobs at TBI.

New forensic lab positions, including scientists, technicians, and administrative support, will be added, according to a press release.

  • Jackson Lab - 8

  • Nashville Lab - 11

  • Knoxville Lab - 6

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“This is an important step in a series of steps as we continue working together to eliminate the backlog of rape kits while enhancing our support for the TBI, and law enforcement communities throughout the state,” said Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville). “Innocence or guilt delayed due to a backlog of DNA testing only compounds the pain and suffering for everyone; I appreciate Gov. Lee, Lt. Gov. McNally, the General Assembly, and the TBI for their commitment to addressing this issue quickly.”

Funding for the additional positions will be included in the upcoming 2023-24 Fiscal Year budget, according to a press release.

RELATED: Turnaround for rape kit tests raises concerns

“For several years, Tennessee has made historic investments to support the TBI’s mission so that law enforcement can do its job and combat violent crime. As our nation faces rising crime, we are taking this additional step to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles, increase the TBI’s capacity and reduce testing turnaround times as quickly as possible,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “I’m grateful for the partnership of Lieutenant Governor McNally, Speaker Sexton and the General Assembly in this important action, and our efforts to strengthen public safety will continue.”

Since 2019, Lee and Tennessee General Assembly have made investments to support the TBI, totaling $42 million and funding 150 new positions.

“While there is absolutely more to do, I am pleased that we are able to take this additional step towards eliminating this backlog. We have to get these violent criminals off the streets and keep them off,” said Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R - Oak Ridge). “We cannot do that if we cannot identify, arrest and incarcerate them. Rape is a particularly egregious and heinous crime. The current turnaround times for rape kits are clearly unacceptable. I am grateful to Governor Lee, Speaker Sexton and the TBI for quickly identifying and approving these additional resources to help close the gap as soon as possible.”

RELATED: Why is there a huge backlog of rape kit testing in Shelby County

“I am glad we are able to quickly provide additional resources to address the TBI backlog of sexual assault kits. It is critical our criminal justice system can swiftly remove rapists from the streets to protect victims and ensure these despicable criminals cannot further terrorize the community,” said Sen. Bo Watson (R - Hixson). “The move today is a step in the right direction. I appreciate the work of Governor Lee, Lt. Gov. McNally and the TBI to eliminate this backlog and streamline the process. The Finance Committee has always been committed to working with the TBI to ensure they have the resources necessary to meet their goals.”

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