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.
In Detroit, as testing has begun on a backlog of more than 11,000 untested kits, the Prosecutor’s Office has identified 127 potential serial rapists from just the first 1,600 rape kits tested and entered into CODIS, the national DNA database. 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.
“If officers are required to investigate every rape report they receive to the full extent—including testing a rape kit—they may be surprised to find they have a case worth pursuing, and offenders worth catching.”
– Sarah Tofte, Vice President of Policy & Advocacy, Joyful Heart Foundation