Does New Mexico law require...
An Audit of Untested Rape Kits?
Tracking of Rape Kits?
Testing of all backlogged rape kits?
Testing of all rape kits in the future?
Victims to be notified of the status of their cases?
Funding for testing kits?
The extent of the untested rape kit backlog in New Mexico is unknown. New Mexico 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 rape kits in Albuquerque to light. Through this request, we uncovered a backlog of 835 untested kits in Albuquerque.
In 2016, the New Mexico State Auditor released a report investigating the backlog in New Mexico, announcing a total of 5,440 untested rape kits across the state.
In 2016, legislators approved a resolution establishing a task force to address the untested rape kit backlog in New Mexico.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the New Mexico Department of Public Safety $1,999,940 to process more than 1,500 unsubmitted kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and re-engage survivors.
In 2017, the Albuquerque City Council introduced a resolution that would require APD to submit all newly collected kits to a crime lab within 10 business days, and would require labs to tested kits within 3 months of receipt. If APD is unable to meet these deadlines, the Chief of Police must contract with outside laboratories for analysis. The resolution also requires the Chief of Police to report annually regarding the number of rape kits collected, the number of rape kits awaiting submission or testing, and the average number of days between kit submission and testing. Since the majority of the state's rape kit backlog originated in Albuquerque, this measure is an important step toward statewide reform.
In 2017, New Mexico legislators introduced multiple rape kit reform bills:
- S.B. 7, which appropriates $1.2 million to test backlogged rape kits at municipal crime laboratories and requires matching municipal funds.
- S.B. 351, which requires the State Auditor to complete a biennial audit of untested rape kits in law enforcement storage across the state and appropriates funding for the first such audit.
- S.B. 423, which would create a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system.
- S.B. 474, which requires the Department of Public Safety to assist local crime labs with backlogs of untested rape kits.
- S.B. 475, which requires law enforcement agencies to submit all newly collected rape kits to the lab within 30 days of receipt. The bill also requires labs to report annually if they had 300 or more untested rape kits awaiting testing at the end of the previous fiscal year.
- H.B. 491, which strengthens rights for sexual assault survivors by requiring healthcare providers to inform survivors of their retention policies for unreported rape kits, and requiring providers to keep such kits for at least 24 months. The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to inform survivors of the right to request information about the status, location, and expected testing date of their kits; and to inform survivors 60 days before planned kit destruction.
- H.B. 320, which appropriates $400,000 to fund public awareness and education services related to the processing of rape kits.
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