In July 2015, an audit revealed at least 2,369 untested rape kits in Virginia. Governor Terry McAuliffe formed a multidisciplinary group to evaluate the backlog, and legislation recently passed will require law enforcement agencies to submit all rape kits for testing moving forward.
In July 2015, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science released their findings from the legislatively mandated audit of "PERKs," or physical evidence recovery kits (rape kits), reporting that the state has 2,369 untested kits. More than 99 percent of the state's law enforcement agencies responded to the audit by June 30th, with nearly two-thirds saying they had no untested kits in their custody. In response to the state's inventory of untested kits, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that he is forming a multi-disciplinary group to evaluate the backlog. This group will include victim advocates, law enforcement, lawyers and forensic nurses. A few months later, in September 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia was awarded $1,399,989 in funding to test 2,034 rape kits. This audit was a result of a law passed in April 2014.
In 2016, the Virginia House and Senate passed SB-291, which requires law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits to the Department of Forensic Science within 60 days, and for reported kits to be kept for at least 10 years and anonymous kits to be kept for at least 2 years. It allows for expungement and victim notification rights in regards to the status of rape kit testing. This bill was signed into law on March 14, 2016.
Since the April 2014 legislation was signed into law, we have urged lawmakers in Virginia to take additional steps towards comprehensive reform, including requiring that all rape kits booked into evidence are tested. This legislation is a step forward in Virginia, and we will continue to monitor this reform and update this page it develops.
Join us and take action today to advocate for transparency and change from our elected officials.
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In November 2013, an 8News investigation uncovered 75 rape kits sitting in the evidence room at the Richmond Police Department and 125 kits at the Chesterfield County Police Department. The Henrico County Police Division was unable to provide an inventory of untested kits in its custody.
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