Massachusetts

Backlog Snapshot

Untested Kits:

Unknown

Testing:

Unknown

Does Massachusetts...
Inventory untested rape kits?
Legislation pending.
Test backlogged rape kits?
Legislation pending.
Test newly collected rape kits?
Legislation pending.
Grant victims rights to notice and be informed?
Legislation pending.
Track rape kits?
Legislation pending.
Appropriate funding for rape kit reform?
No.

The extent of the untested rape kit backlog in Massachusetts is unknown. Massachusetts law does not require law enforcement agencies to count, track, or test rape kits. 

In 2014, The Accountability Project issued an open records request to bring the number of untested kits in Boston to light. Boston Police Department (BPD) stated that all kits received are submitted to the BPD crime lab for testing, although testing may be halted upon officer request (if, for instance, a survivor is deemed “uncooperative.”) Although BPD indicated they received 882 rape kits into evidence between 2009 and 2013, it is unclear how many of these kits were halted after being submitted to the lab.

In 2015, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) requested reports from the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) crime lab and police agencies about the number of untested rape kits in their inventory. Only 75 of 351 municipal police departments and the MSP lab submitted reports, and 83% of the police departments that submitted reports reported zero untested kits in their inventory. The ten largest police departments in Massachusetts either did not submit reports or reported zero untested kits in the audit.

In 2016, Massachusetts enacted a law requiring hospitals to notify survivors that, regardless of whether or not they choose to report the crime, their rape kits will be preserved for 15 years. The law also requires all government entities to preserve kits for the duration of the statute of limitations or at least 15 years.

There are multiple rape kit reform bills currently pending in Massachusetts. Coupled with the comprehensive rape kit reforms in Amendment #68 to H.B. 4011, enacting S.B. 1174 and H.B. 3614 would demonstrate the state's commitment to offering a path to healing and justice for sexual assault survivors and increasing public safety for every community.

  • House Bill 4011, an omnibus criminal justice bill. Amendment #68 to the bill mandates an annual statewide inventory of rape kits, the timely testing of newly collected rape kits, and the submission and testing of all backlogged kits; establishes a statewide rape kit tracking system, and grants victims the right to know the status of their kits. This amendment was approved by the House in November 2017 and is currently pending in conference committee. Read Joyful Heart's letter of support.
  • Senate Bill 1174, which would require the development of statewide protocols for handling rape kits, including the transportation of kits directly from hospitals to labs. The bill also requires EOPSS to conduct a comprehensive study on the effectiveness and cost of tracking and victim notification systems, and report their findings to legislators.
  • House Bill 3614, which requires the creation of a statewide tracking system for rape kits that must enable survivors to anonymously track or receive updates regarding the status of their kits.

TAKE ACTION TODAY TO BRING RAPE KIT REFORM TO MASSACHUSETTS

keep up with backlog news

END THE BACKLOG is a JOYFUL HEART FOUNDATION initiative and a proud supporter of