Rape kit testing sends a message to survivors that they—and their cases—matter. It sends a message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable for their crimes. It demonstrates a commitment to survivors to do everything possible to bring healing and justice.
"Finally, my nightmares have stopped almost altogether. I have a sense of security that I haven’t felt in over a decade. My home is my own. My family is safe.”
- Survivor, speaking about getting the results of an analysis of her rape kit after 13 years
When tested, rape kit evidence can identify an unknown assailant, confirm the presence of a known suspect, affirm the survivor's account of the attack and discredit the suspect, connect the suspect to other crime scenes and exonerate innocent suspects. Jurisdictions across the country have begun to witness the benefits of testing every rape kit.
For example, after New York City, which eliminated its rape kit backlog of 17,000 kits in 2003, implemented a policy to test every rape kit booked into police evidence, the city’s arrest rate for rape subsequently jumped from 40 percent to 70 percent, compared to 24 percent nationally.
Detroit's initiative to test all of their 11,341 kits has resulted in 1,266 DNA matches and the identification of 288 potential serial rapists, and the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office has obtained 15 convictions with 6 more set for trial. DNA from the kits tested linked to crimes committed in 31 states and the District of Columbia. After police in Fort Worth, Texas began clearing their backlog of 960 untested kits in 2003, they received more than 200 DNA matches, leading to 47 arrests, 36 felony convictions and the apprehension of five serial rapists. In Cleveland, the testing of approximately 2,300 kits resulted in 968 DNA matches, 324 investigations and 209 criminal indictments.
"Testing is the first step in bringing justice to long neglected victims. The next important steps are investigation and prosecution. People should be aware that these kits contain valuable evidence that can assist law enforcement in preventing future rapes, robberies, home invasions and even homicides.”
- Kym Worthy, Wayne County (Michigan) Prosecutor