At Joyful Heart, we seek to shine a light on the rape kit backlog 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, real reform can begin. When law enforcement agencies account for the untested kits in their custody, communities can begin to 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 found to have backlogs to implement comprehensive reforms.
In partnership with two law firms, Goodwin Procter LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, we have undertaken a project to uncover whether there are rape kit backlogs in cities across the country. So far, we have discovered more than 32,000 untested rape kits in twelve cities through The Accountability Project.
With help from our pro bono partners, we have been using public records requests to bring to light the number of untested kits at police departments in 48 jurisdictions. The status of each jurisdiction is as follows:
|Albuquerque, NM||Las Vegas, NV||San Diego, CA|
|Charlotte, NC||Miami, FL||Seattle, WA|
|Indianapolis, IN||Milwaukee, WI||St. Louis, MO|
|Jacksonville, FL||Nashville, TN||Tucson, AZ|
|Kansas City, MO||Philadelphia, PA||Tulsa, OK|
Request in progress
Request denied or incomplete information received
|Atlantic City, NJ||Camden, NJ||Jackson, MS|
|Baltimore, MD||Gary, IN||Oklahoma City, OK|
Read the press releases:
- May 19, 2015: Charlotte, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Portland and San Diego
- October 2, 2014: Las Vegas, Seattle, Tulsa, Milwaukee and Wisconsin
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.