100,000 Faces. One Big Problem.
Across the country, hundreds of thousands of sexual assault forensic evidence kits (“rape kits”) sit untested and unaccounted for. Each of these kits represents a victim seeking justice and a potential serial criminal who may be wandering the streets, looking for new victims. We must do better.
One is Too Many.
We don’t know – yet – exactly how many rape kits await testing. In almost every instance, law enforcement initially reported that large numbers of untested kits were not expected. But once counted, the numbers are alarming. Thousands of kits sit unprocessed in evidence rooms across the country. Consider the following figures on identified kits:
- Arizona: 3,000 kits in Phoenix alone
- California: 2,000 kits in Alameda County alone
- Colorado: 2,200 kits
- Illinois: 4,000 kits
- Ohio: 4,000 kits in Cleveland alone
- Michigan: 11,000 kits in Detroit alone
- Nevada: 4,000 kits in Clark County alone
- Tennessee: 12,000 kits in Memphis alone
What’s Being Done.
States like Colorado, Illinois, and Texas have taken legislative action to establish statewide policies on rape kit testing requirements and identify a plan of action to address the backlog of untested kits. And they and the federal government have put resources toward this fight. For example, in 2013 Congress passed and the president signed the SAFER Act (PL 113-4), which will make resources available for rape kit audits.
Rape Kit Testing Laws
We need every state to take action to ensure that rape victims in their state are given every opportunity for justice and healing and to help put serial criminals behind bars. If your state hasn’t yet acted on this issue, 2014 is the year to do so.
Where to Start.
We formed the Rape Kit Action Project to help lawmakers establish statewide policies on the counting and testing of rape kits. The effort is headed by national leaders in the fight against sexual violence: the National Center for Victims of Crime, Joyful Heart Foundation, Natasha’s Justice Project, and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Combined, we have more than 50 years’ experience in victim advocacy and public policy. And we are ready to provide lawmakers who want to engage on this issue with the tools they need – from model language to state-specific talking points and press materials.