New York

Backlog Snapshot

New York
Untested Kits:

1,981*

Testing:

In Progress

Does New York law require...
An Audit of Untested Rape Kits?

Yes – Periodic

Tracking of Rape Kits?

Proposed

Testing of all backlogged rape kits?

Yes

Testing of all rape kits in the future?

Yes

Victims to be notified of the status of their cases?

Proposed

Funding for testing kits?

Yes

In 2016, New York enacted a law requiring all law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies to regularly count and report the number of untested kits in their possession to the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). In March 2017, DCJS released a preliminary audit report, finding at least 1,622 untested kits statewide. Fewer than half of all law enforcement agencies in New York responded to the audit request, so the total number of untested kits in the state remains unknown. In April 2017, DCJS released an update to the audit report, identifying 1,981 untested kits statewide, with 78% of agencies reporting. New York law does not require law enforcement to track rape kits.

In 1999, New York City had at least 17,000 untested rape kits, all of which were tested by 2003. In April 2017, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stated that it had 42,578 kits in custody dating back to 1980. NYPD is currently identifying the testing status of these kits and will submit any untested kits for testing.

In 2015, The Accountability Project issued open records requests to bring the number of untested kits in Albany, Buffalo and Rochester to light.

  • Through our efforts, we have learned that the Albany Police Department (APD) submitted 90% of all kits received by the department to the lab for testing between 2007 and 2015. As of January 2016, the APD reported 28 untested kits in storage.
  • We have also learned that the Rochester Police Department (RPD) submitted 89% of all rape kits received between 2005 and 2015 to the lab for testing. As of October 2016, RPD reported 153 untested kits, which are being incrementally submitted to a federal lab for testing.
  • In January 2017, the Buffalo Police Department indicated that it “cannot provide an inventory” in response to our request.

The 2016 law states that, starting 90 days after enactment, law enforcement agencies must submit all newly collected kits to a lab within 10 days of collection and the lab must analyze these kits within 90 days of receipt. Within 13 months of enactment, law enforcement agencies must submit all previously unsubmitted kits to the lab for testing. The lab must analyze these kits within 120 days of receipt, and return their findings to the agencies within 90 days of analysis.

The 2016 law also mandates that, beginning one year after enactment, law enforcement agencies must report quarterly to DCJS regarding the number of rape kits they collect, the number they submit for processing, the number they do not submit for processing, and the length of time between kit collection and submission for processing. Additionally, all labs in the state must report quarterly to DCJS regarding the number of kits submitted for processing; the number of kits processed for DNA profiles; and the number of kits not processed for testing, including the reasons for not testing these kits. Beginning January 1, 2018, DCJS must submit an annual report to legislators aggregating this quarterly information. In the 2016-2017 budget, the state allocated $500,000 for sexual assault kit testing.

In 2017, New York legislators introduced multiple rape kit reform bills:

  • S.B. 3326, which would create a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system that enables sexual assault survivors to anonymously track or receive updates regarding the status of their kits.
  • S.B. 6238 and A.B. 3597, which grant victims of sex offenses the right to information about the  testing status and results of forensic evidence associated with their cases.
  • S.B. 6428 and A.B. 8401, which establish a sexual assault survivor bill of rights, including victims' right to notice provisions, and require DCJS to study the feasibility of establishing a statewide tracking system for rape kits.

Legislators also appropriated an additional $500,000 to test rape kits in the state budget in 2017-2018.

TAKE ACTION TODAY TO BRING FURTHER RAPE KIT REFORM TO NEW YORK

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