Rape Kit Backlog Advocacy Website Nominated for Webby Award

For Immediate Release: April 16, 2014
Contact: Melissa Schwartz, media@endthebacklog.org 

NEW YORK – In striking recognition of the power of advocacy, ENDTHEBACKLOG.org, the Joyful Heart Foundation’s website devoted to shining a light on and ending the injustice of the rape kit backlog, has been nominated for a Webby Award for Best Activism website. ENDTHEBACKLOG.org was selected as a finalist out of more than 12,000 nominations received from around the world.

“Being recognized by the Webby Awards is one of the most prestigious honors a website can achieve. But more importantly, it is an incredible opportunity to raise even more awareness and activism to #ENDTHEBACKLOG and bring healing and justice to survivors of sexual assault,” said Maile Zambuto, President and CEO of the Joyful Heart Foundation. “The rape kit backlog is one of the most tangible demonstrations of the gaps in our response to sexual violence. This recognition helps us shine a light on this issue, and the survivors that each rape kit represents.”

Rape kit evidence—DNA collected from the body of a sexual assault victim in the immediate aftermath of the crime—is a powerful investigative tool. It can identify an unknown assailant and confirm the presence of a known suspect. It can affirm the survivor’s account of the attack and discredit the suspect. It can connect the suspect to other crime scenes. It can also exonerate innocent suspects.

Cities across the nation have begun to witness the powerful results that come from testing the rape kits in their custody. In a jurisdiction like New York City, with a long-standing policy to test every rape kit booked into police evidence, the arrest rate for rape skyrocketed from 40 percent to 70 percent once mandatory rape kit testing was implemented. When Detroit tested its first 1,600 kits, it found 100 serial rapists, and linked rape kits to crimes in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Yet, experts have estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in police storage facilities across the country, in what is known as the rape kit backlog.

ENDTHEBACKLOG.org includes an interactive map displaying everything that is (and is not) known about where the backlog exists, an extensive media and resource archive, and an integrated blog with updates and commentary about the backlog. Thousands of letters to legislators across the country have been sent through the site, and lawmakers are listening to calls for reform. Since the fall, 9 states have introduced legislation to address their backlogs. The federal government has proposed a $35 million program – the most significant federal support yet – to provide communities across the country with resources to create multi-disciplinary teams to investigate and prosecute cases, and address the need for victim notification and re-engagement with the criminal justice system.

Support ENDTHEBACKLOG.org’s Webby nomination by casting your vote today by clicking here.

###

The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.

keep up with backlog news

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