Rep. Mike Honda

CONGRESS | Across the country there is an estimated backlog of nearly 500,000 rape kits awaiting testing, including about 2,000 in Alameda County alone. To alleviate the backlog, Bay Area Congressman Mike Honda asked a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday to allow the FBI to eliminate a time-consuming bureaucratic step. Honda, along with FBI Director James Comey, also recommended Alameda County serve as a pilot for the plan.

The backlog of untested rape kits has long been a concern to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. East Bay Congress members Barbara Lee and Eric Swalwell have also previously raised the issue and support removing the technical review for government labs certified to test the kits. According to the Alameda County DA’s office, certified labs in the East Bay are only able to perform four to five cases a month. Conversely, the office believes that a certified private lab could examine at least one hundred kits per month. Honda’s proposal would require government labs to maintain quality control on the private labs with periodic “spot checks.”…