How We Determine and Track State Reforms

We track progress across all 50 states according to criteria that our staff of experts—in consultation with survivors, fellow advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, and policymakers—have determined to be critical aspects of rape kit reform. The criteria that we track correspond to our Drafter’s Checklist for Rape Kit Reform, which provides language and examples for state lawmakers working on this issue. Click here (or continue scrolling down) to go to information about what the colors mean on our interactive END THE BACKLOG map.

READ THE DRAFTER’S CHECKLIST

These criteria are:

  1. Auditing 
    A state is considered to have met this criterion if a one-time statewide audit of untested kits has been conducted in the past three years, or if it has mandated ongoing scheduled audits, such as twice-yearly, annual, or biannual audits. This is a key first step of rape kit reform, but states must also implement one or more of the reforms below to be considered having implemented limited or comprehensive reform. For more information about audit laws, click here.
  2. Tracking
    If a state law has mandated the implementation of a tracking system that can follow the path of a rape kit throughout the entire process—from collection to the crime lab—it is considered to have met this criterion. For more information about tracking laws, click here.
  3. Testing of untested/backlogged rape kits
    If a state law has mandated a deadline for sending all previously untested kits to the crime lab for analysis, it is considered to have met this criterion. For more information about laws related to testing backlogged kits, click here.
  4. Testing of incoming (new) rape kits
    In addition to mandating the testing of all backlogged kits, state laws must also mandate deadlines for the submission of all incoming (new) rape kits related to future crimes. For more information about this aspect of testing laws, click here.
  5. Funding
    For rape kit reform to be successful, state laws must allocate sufficient funding. The resources dedicated to this effort should be informed by the results of a statewide audit. If a state law has allocated funding streams for its rape kit reform efforts through legislation, it is considered to have met this criterion. For more information about resources, click here.
  6. Victim notification
    States are considered to have met this criterion if their laws establish that survivors have the right to receive information about their cases and rape kits. For more information about victim notification laws, click here. You can also read our research and best practice recommendations here.

About our Map Colors

States where a complete statewide audit has been conducted are represented by dark gray on the interactive END THE BACKLOG mapThis includes states where audits have been mandated by legislation, governors, attorney generals, or by other means. While we believe a one-time audit, no matter how it was initiated, is illuminating and informs the resources a state must dedicate to further reform, state legislatures should also mandate regular ongoing audits, as well as additional reforms.

If between one and four of criteria 2 through 6 (above) have been met, a state is considered to have implemented limited rape kit reform, and is represented by light blue. For example: if a statewide audit has been conducted and the legislature has enacted mandatory submission deadlines for testing backlogged kits, the state will be light blue. Or if a state legislature has enacted victim notification reform, mandatory submission deadlines for testing backlogged kits, and deadlines for the submission of all new kits, the state will be light blue. Or if a state legislature has enacted victim notification reform, mandatory submission deadlines for testing backlogged kits, and deadlines for the submission of all new kits, the state will be light blue.

If all of the above criteria have been met through legislative efforts, a state is considered to have implemented comprehensive rape kit reform, and is represented by dark blue

States that have any of the above reforms under consideration in their legislatures—regardless of whether they have previously implemented any level of reform—are represented by yellow

States that have not implemented any reform whatsoever are represented by light gray. This includes states where audits may have been mandated but not yet completed.

We believe systemic and lasting change will take effect through legislation. While we commend the attorney generals, auditors, and other officials at the local and state levels who have made rape kit reform a priority for their offices, change must also be codified in law.

We need you to make this happen. Make your voice heard to your elected officials today.

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