At Joyful Heart, we work to shine a light on the backlog of untested rape kits in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sit in law enforcement facilities across the country. We cannot know the true extent of the backlog because few state governments and no federal agencies require that police departments count or track the kits in their possession. In fact, most times, the number of untested kits in a particular jurisdiction remains unknown until journalists, nonprofit organizations or concerned citizens step in to investigate.
When the extent of a jurisdiction’s backlog is revealed, reform can begin. Communities can take steps to test those kits, hold offenders accountable, and bring justice to sexual assault survivors whose cases have languished, often for years—or even decades. Ultimately, our goal is to engage with cities that have backlogs to implement comprehensive reforms.
Working with our pro bono partner Goodwin LLP, we have issued public records requests to police departments in 49 jurisdictions to reveal whether they possess any untested rape kits. So far, we have uncovered more than 34,000 untested rape kits in 27 cities through The Accountability Project.
Request in progress:
|Anchorage, AK||Buffalo, NY||Omaha, NE|
|Atlanta, GA||Champaign, IL||Raleigh, NC|
|Birmingham, AL||Chicago, IL||San Jose, CA|
|Bismarck, ND||Durham, NC||Trenton, NJ|
|Boston, MA||Eugene, OR||Washington DC|
Request denied or incomplete information received:
|Atlantic City, NJ||Camden, NJ||Jackson, MS|
|Baltimore, MD||Gary, IN||Oklahoma City, OK|
- May 19, 2015: Charlotte, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Portland, and San Diego press release
- October 2, 2014: Las Vegas, Seattle, Tulsa, and Milwaukee press release
Because most cities do not track the rape kits they book into evidence, we know that the process of counting kits that have piled up over many years will require significant time, resources and commitment. The Joyful Heart Foundation is here to provide assistance to communities as they attempt this undertaking.