In September 2015, the Michigan State Police was awarded $1,996,991 and $1,385,000 by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance respectively, for a total of $3,381,991 in funding to address its backlog through testing kits, investigating and prosecuting cases, and re-engaging survivors. The Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney's Office also received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice's initiative.
Additionally, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance announced the City of Flint Police Department was awarded $163,590 and $1,116,409, respectively, for a total of $1,329,999 in funding to address its backlog through testing kits, investigating and prosecuting cases and re-engaging survivors.
Although the state has made great progress in rape kit reform, we still do not know the extent of the backlog in Michigan—there is only information about the backlog at the local level, which is posted below. Like most states, Michigan does not require its law enforcement agencies to track or count rape kits, making it difficult to know the extent of the rape kit backlog here. However a growing number of states, all across the country, are making real reforms to end the backlog. This can happen in Michigan, too. Take action today to advocate for transparency and change from our elected officials.
|Tracking||Testing||Victim Notification||No Known Reform||Reform in Progress||Partial Reform||Complete Reform|
In 2009, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office discovered 11,341 untested rape kits in a Detroit Police Department storage facility. Through funding from the National Institute of Justice and the hard work of a multi-disciplinary team, Detroit has been whittling down their backlog through their kit testing initiative. Read more about Detroit here.
On June 5, 2013, Governor Rick Snyder announced that the State of Michigan would allocate $4 million from state legal settlement awards to fund the testing of the rape kits remaining in Detroit's backlog. A year later, on June 12, 2014, the state legislature appropriated $3 million in litigation and settlement funds for the annual budget for the Department of Attorney General to fund prosecutions resulting from testing backlogged rape kits.
In July 2014, legislation was passed that requires law enforcement to collect sexual assault evidence kits within 14 days of notice, and submit the evidence to a crime laboratory within 14 days of collection. The lab is to analyze the kit within 3 months of receipt if sufficient staffing and resources are available. Additionally, if an agency intends to destroy any rape kit before the statute of limitations has expired, the agency must notify the survivors in writing at least 60 days in advance of destroying the evidence.
The legislation, House Bill 5445, that says going forward, rape kits cannot be released to law enforcement without the written consent of the victim. When there is consent, the health care provider must notify the head of the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the area in which the medical facility is located. Those who do not have consent must inform survivors about their evidence storage policies. Unreleased kits must be stored for a minimum of one year before being destroyed.
When law enforcement receives such notice, they are to collect the evidence within 14 days. When they collect it, they are to assign it a unique numerical identifier and submit it to a lab within 14 days of collection. The lab is to analyze the kit within 3 months of receipt if sufficient staffing and resources are available. If an agency intends to destroy any rape kit before the statute of limitations on the case has expired, the agency must notify the survivor in writing at least 60 days in advance of destroying the evidence. While this law will help to prevent future backlogs in Michigan, the legislature must take additional steps to provide survivors with greater access to justice, including requiring the counting and testing of all rape kits booked into evidence.
In October 2014, the state enacted legislation that created the Sexual Assault Kit Tracking and Reporting Commission to put in place statewide guidelines for tracking rape kits as they move through the testing process and testing results. The Commission will include the state attorney general's office, representatives from Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies and advocates.
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