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Maricopa County to use $1.1M grant to test sexual assault kits

This Thursday, April 2, 2015 photo shows an evidence bag from a sexual assault case in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston. Legislators in more than 20 states are considering _ and in some cases, passing _ laws that include auditing all kits and deadlines for submitting and processing DNA evidence. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will use a $1.1 million federal grant to continue testing sexual assault kits, according to a press release.

The county will use the funding to continue analyzing previously untested sexual assault evidence kits, as well as “investigation and prosecution efforts of cases involving the kits.”

The funding will also expand the county’s initiative to test these kits by adding six more positions, including a detective, an analyst, another advocate and support staff.

The grant was awarded to the county by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance through its Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant Program, according to the release.

In a statement, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the funding will “help to not only hold offenders accountable for their crimes, but also prevent offenders from causing additional harm to the community.

“This continued investment shows our commitment to seeking justice for the victims of these types of violent crimes.”

So far, the grant funding has allowed nearly 2,700 sexual assault kits to be tested, leading to six new indictments since 2016.

Three of those cases have led to convictions, while the other three are awaiting trial.

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