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.
EndTheBacklogApril 1, 2011
In February, Women’s eNews ran a commentary by Wendy Murphy which argued that testing the backlog of rape kits– the evidence collected from victims’ bodies that is waiting to be tested in storage facilities across the United States–is a waste of resources and violates the privacy of victims.
Last month, former New York City chief sex crimes prosecutor, best-selling author and Joyful Heart board member Linda Fairstein wrote a brilliant rebuttal in response to Murphy’s piece published in The Daily Beast.
EndTheBacklogMarch 18, 2011
With many states struggling to foot the bill to end backlogs of untested evidence including rape kits in crime labs, Wisconsin is poised to take steps to prevent bottlenecks from occurring in the future. The state, which was overwhelmed by testing needs for much of the last decade, seemed to have recently got its historic backlog under control, but it is unclear if a secondary backlog has developed.
EndTheBacklogMarch 15, 2011
One of Endhtebacklog.org’s policy focuses is on ensuring healing and justice for survivors of sexual assault. There’s a lot of people behind this effort and we have tremendous respect for the work of those who help others cope with trauma. This work is not always easy. Today Chris Vargo, Joyful Heart’s New York Manager of Programs shares a bit about vicarious trauma and Joyful Heart’s Heal the Healers program.
EndTheBacklogMarch 11, 2011
In January, we ran our first Global Dispatch, a recurring feature in which Joyful Heart Foundation showcases the stories of those working around the world to ensure justice and healing for survivors of sexual assault. The first Global Dispatch came from Amy Ernst, a volunteer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country she says is often referred to as “the worst place on earth to be a woman,” where rape is frequently used as a weapon of war. Despite the violence in the region, Amy says she finds hope in the way women create a community of family, strength, love and laughter.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 28, 2011
Charles Courtney, Jr., was arrested in Franklin County, Indiana in September 1996, for the knifepoint rape of his wife, Mary Jane, when she told him she wanted a divorce the night he returned from a trip on his job as a long-distance truck driver. Like defendants in many domestic violence cases, Courtney was offered a plea to a lesser charge of sexual battery. As such, his two-year sentence was far lighter than it would have been had he raped a stranger–a sad truth about many rapists whose victims are partners or acquaintances. That conviction earned the government the right to put Courtney’s genetic profile in the FBI’s convicted-offender databank. He was released from prison on January 4, 1998.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 23, 2011
From news sources national to local to campus-based, the backlog has been receiving a lot of coverage lately. A couple weeks ago, a Georgia high school student named Brittany emailed Joyful Heart to ask for an interview with Sarah Tofte, JHF’s Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships, for an article she was writing for her school newspaper, The Pitchfork.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 17, 2011
California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino has introduced legislation in the state government to track and report untested rape kits and set a time limit for labs to process them. From an article on patch.com:
The bill, AB 322…would mandate that rape kits used for DNA testing be sent by law enforcement agencies to a lab within 30 days, and be processed within six months. Agencies would also have to send regular reports on the number of unprocessed rape kits to the [California] Department of Justice that would be also be available to the public.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 9, 2011
The rape kit backlog has received quite a bit of press in the past weeks thanks to a great article by Brandi Grissom in The Texas Tribune. Grissom reports that about 16,000 kits are sitting untested in Houston. Over in San Antonio, the backlog is estimated to be between 5,200 and 11,500 kits, according to several CBS reports, while in Dallas, KDAF reported that officials estimated that the number of untested kits there could be as high as 10,000.