Archive for January, 2011
In 2010, the Joyful Heart Foundation‘s second issue of Reunion featured a story of a young girl whose big voice is matched only by her bigger heart. Ella Burnside was given an assignment from her English teacher: write about something in the world you want to change, and then do it. Ella wrote about ending sexual violence and domestic abuse, and then went about raising over $10,000 for Joyful Heart. She was in tenth grade.
This school year, Ella attended a youth government conference in her home state of Kentucky. There, she and several of her classmates presented a bill to the mock legislature calling for the elimination of Kentucky’s backlog of untested rape kits and proposing a timeline to get the kits tested. Several news sources, including CBS and WLKY, have reported on the state crime lab’s backlog of hundreds of kits.
As Ella reported to us, her bill sailed through the mock House and Senate, with approximately 95% of her peers voting for it. “I am confident that they truly understood the importance of eliminating KY’s backlog and that many of them were immensely More >
We came across this article on nola.com about the New Orleans Police Department’s efforts to resolve its backlog of untested rape kits. Using time and resources donated by the Louisiana State Police, Marshall University and the National Institute of Justice, the department is looking to make rape kit testing a priority, NOLA reports.
From the article:
About 60 kits per month will be sent to the State Police lab and then will be forwarded later to Marshall University for analysis.
The Police Department’s crime lab, which was decimated in Katrina, has a backlog of several years in testing the evidence kits. This sort of evidence is crucial to investigations.
Committing time and resources to testing sexual assault evidence is crucial to resolving backlogs like this one. In November, CBS reported that the Louisiana state lab was struggling to work its way through a backlog of hundreds of kits, some as old as eight years.
Hopefully the extra help and renewed energy will make a difference for New Orleans.
Read the full article here, and continue to check back here for more updates from across the country.
Armen Keteyian and Laura Strickler’s five month investigation into untested rape kits nationwide uncovering 20,000 untested rape kits in various cities won the 2010 Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, as well as the 2010 Gracie Award for Best Investigative Program.
Sarah Tofte: How did you get interested in journalism as a career?
Laura Strickler: In 2003, I was working on a masters in public administration, but I dropped out, and started doing a documentary film program and was completely taken with it. It was much more interesting than statistics.
Long story short, I started in public radio, and joined the CBS News investigative unit in 2006.
ST: How did you get interested in the story of the rape kit backlog?
LS: My colleague had just finished a brilliant story that looked at veteran suicides across the country, and it was a large data project that required my colleague to call every single state’s coroner’s office to figure out how many veterans’ deaths were classified as suicides. It was a very significant story since it was at the beginning of the national discussion about what could be done to More >
One of Endhtebacklog.org’s policy focuses is on ensuring justice and healing for survivors of sexual assault. Our work on these issues currently is limited to the domestic arena. However, we cannot ignore the very simple fact that the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and other issues of violence against women, are pervasive and exist around the world.
At Joyful Heart, we envision a community that collectively turns towards these issues—a community that says to a survivor, “We hear you. We believe you. We feel for you. And your healing is our priority.” To that end, we want to acknowledge and honor that we are a part of a larger global community and have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of others around the world.
Today, we’re pleased to introduce a new recurring Backlog Blog feature entitled “Global Dispatches” that will offer first person views from individuals and organizations around the world that address the issues we seek to address. We hope that these updates will inspire our supporters to engage both locally and globally on these issues.
Our inaugural post. comes from Amy Ernst who is currently working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“The girls are not doing well. More >