Across the country, the rape kit backlog is making headlines. Journalists are uncovering backlogs, jurisdictions are implementing reforms to track and test rape kits and citizens are taking action. In the Media Center, you'll find the latest information about the backlog, including: commentary from the ENDTHEBACKLOG staff and backlog reformers, first-person testimonials from those impacted by the backlog, an archive of news articles, op-eds, investigative reports, legislation and government publications we've identified, and more.
The Tampa TribuneAugust 30, 2013
Every year, thousands of individuals take the courageous step of reporting their rape to the police. They overcome the terrible, misplaced social stigma of being the victim of sexual violence. They overcome the warnings sometimes uttered by the rapist to keep silent. They overcome the suggestions that these issues ought not to be spoken of, and they speak up. The forensic examination of their bodies, the crime scene, typically takes four to six hours, and yields what is called a rape kit. And experts estimate there are hundreds of thousands of rape kits sitting untested throughout the country.
ENDTHEBACKLOGAugust 30, 2013
At the 2013 National Sexual Assault Conference, Joyful Heart presented a workshop on our research on victim notification and the rape kit backlog, defining victim notification and current practices across the country and walking the audience through the many decisions jurisdictions face when notifying survivors that their rape kits were part of a backlog. They were joined by a panel of experts who have direct experience with notification: Detective James Blocker of the LA Police Department (LAPD), Robert Taylor, Assistant Director of the LA Sheriff's Department (LASD) Crime Lab, and Anne Kinetra, an investigator with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
The Cleveland Plain DealerAugust 6, 2013
Most Americans with a general knowledge of our criminal justice system assume that rape kit evidence is sent for testing automatically after it is booked into police evidence. As DNA has played an increasingly important role in our criminal justice system, even laypeople grasp how vital DNA evidence is in resolving rape cases. Rape kit testing can identify an unknown assailant, confirm the presence of a known suspect, affirm a victim's version of events, discredit a suspect's story, identify serial rapists by connecting individual crime scenes, and exonerate innocent suspects. Rape kit testing sends a crucial message to victims that their cases matter. It puts assailants on notice that the criminal justice system takes their crimes seriously.
The New York TimesAugust 3, 2013
Thousands of evidence kits collected from rape victims that have sat untested for years in Texas can now be analyzed, thanks to an $11 million budget appropriation earmarked for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
THE BACKLOG BLOGJuly 12, 2013
As we have shared previously, Ohio is making strides toward ending its rape kit backlog. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) reports that of 1,165 kits tested so far, there have been 322 DNA matches in CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System. From those matches, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has already secured 33 indictments and has an additional 122 leads to investigate.
THE BACKLOG BLOGJuly 8, 2013
Last week in Aurora, Colorado, Police Chief Dan Oates announced that evidence from 48 different sexual assault cases was destroyed by mistake. The evidence, all from 2009 cases, had been destroyed during a six-month period beginning in January 2013.
ABC 15June 18, 2013
The Phoenix Police Department has made significant changes to their protocols for testing DNA in rape cases after an ABC15 Investigation exposed thousands of Valley sex crimes had untested evidence.