In July 2015, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that requires law enforcement to collect sexual assault kits from the health care provider within 72 hours of receiving notice and to submit that evidence to a laboratory within 15 days of receiving the kit. The bill also mandates that the lab is to complete testing within six months from date of the receipt, and requires a report on untested backlogs within 6 months. Additionally, the bill improves victim notification practices by amending the Crime Victims Act to include: the right to be informed when their evidence is submitted for testing, the right to be notified when a DNA sample is entered into CODIS, and the right to be notified if the sample resulted in a match.
In September 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner was awarded $254,437 in funding to test 400 rape kits. The City of Philadelphia Police Department also received funding through the initiative.
We do not know the extent of the backlog in Pennsylvania. Like most states, Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania, too. Take action today to advocate for transparency and change from our elected officials.
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Auditor General DePasquale Plans Special Report on 1,852 Backlogged Untested Rape Kits Reported to Department of HealthMay 4, 2016
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