The Houston Police Department has located another estimated 3,000 untested rape kits, according to the Houston Chronicle, in addition to more than 4,200 they were already aware of. This report comes little more than a week after
it was revealed that an HPD crime lab supervisor and others quit because their concerns about mobile breath testing vans.
As the article correctly notes, the lack of testing may lead to the conviction of innocent people. However, so can bad testing, sloppy record keeping, poor lab procedures, ignoring or suppressing exclupatory evidence, dishonesty, and other problems that all have been features of Houston Police Department crime lab over the last decade. Ask people like Josiah Sutton, who was wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit or
Jaime Garcia, who was acquitted despite suspicious testimony from HPD crime lab personnel against him.
The above referenced cases are distinguished by the actions taken by the defense attorney at trial. In Sutton's case, no independent examination was made before trial. In the second, the attorney didn't take HPD's word for it, found evidence they claimed they had tested or mismanaged, and had it independently tested before trial. While both men were ultimately exonerated, one sat in prison for years before being set free.
When it comes to forensic science, one simply can't take HPD's word on it.
The Houston Chronicle has a round-up of HPD's lab problems.