Media Archive by Topic: rape kit backlog

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The rape kit backlog shows exactly how we regard women in this country
April 13, 2018 • HuffPost
Alanna Vagianos

There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits currently sitting in police storage across the country. So, how did we get here?

That’s the question actress and activist Mariska Hargitay answers in her new HBO documentary “I Am Evidence,” set to air April 16. The film, co-produced by the “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star and Trish Adlesic, and co-directed by Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir, takes a human approach to an epidemic that has reduced survivors, their stories and their trauma to a box of evidence. 

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The risk we take with Charlotte’s rape kit backlog
June 29, 2015 • The Charlotte Observer
Maile M. Zambuto
From Maile M. Zambuto, Chief Executive Officer of the Joyful Heart Foundation, and Monika Johnson Hostler, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the President of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, read more
The science of stopping sex crimes
September 4, 2013 • Minnesota City Pages
Judy Keen
In the quest to catch violent perps, rape kits can be a key ally – but only if they're tested. read more
The story behind the first rape kit
Nov. 21, 2015 • CNN
Jessica Ravitz
First used in Illinois and then across the country, rape kits are making headlines as hundreds of thousands of them are being discovered backlogged, untested and, in some cases, destroyed. read more
The War on Drugs Could Be Making Our Communities More Dangerous
November 8, 2015 • Vice News
Justin Glawe

When 11 corpses were discovered in and around the Cleveland home of Anthony Sowell in the fall of 2009, there were some 4,000 untested rape kits being neglected by local cops. The deranged rapist and murderer was stopped, but his case exposed the stunning mishandling of missing persons and sexual assault cases in the city,  a problem advocates argue has festered nationwide as the war on drugs has sucked up public safety dollars that might otherwise have gone toward putting rapists and killers behind bars.

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There Are 400,000 Unprocessed Rape Kits in the U.S. How Can This Be?
March 12, 2014 • Slate
Katy Waldman
Last week, Vice President Joe Biden announced a White House proposal to pour $35 million into testing backlogged rape kits and bringing sex offenders to justice. read more
This is why thousands of Minnesota rape kits go untested
Nov. 13, 2015 • St. Paul Pioneer Press
Elizabeth Mohr

The numbers might seem alarming: more than 3,000 rape kits sitting on shelves, untested, at law enforcement agencies across the state. And for more than 9 percent of those cases, the reason for not testing is "unknown."

But police are quick to explain that a reasonable explanation often exists for not testing evidence collected after a sex assault is reported: Sometimes victims do not want to move forward with a case. Sometimes the suspect's identity is not in question. Sometimes prosecutors decline to file charges.

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Thousands of Untested Rape Kits in Memphis Endanger Public
September 8, 2013 • Nonprofit Quarterly
Ruth McCambridge
For anyone who has worked on issues of violence against women, this should serve as a wake-up call that the work is far from done. For anyone who works on social change, it serves as a reminder that monitoring implementation of hard-won laws is critical. read more
Thousands of untested rape kits lying in storage in Detroit
February 18, 2013 • Canadian Broadcast Radio
Pacinthe Mattar
A disturbing story about law and order today. In the city of Detroit, the woman who holds the job of Chief Prosecutor discovered that thousands of sexual assault cases have been in limbo for decades because evidence from so-called rape kits is languishing on forgotten shelves. It is not a problem unique to Detroit, but it is one that has seen serial rapists, and even murderers, exist undetected for years. read more
Untested rape exam kits number thousands in Indiana
September 20, 2017 • The Indiana Lawyer
Dave Stafford

Like many states, Indiana has a problem — mountains of untested rape exam kits in local law enforcement agencies that contain DNA evidence potentially identifying sex offenders. Indiana’s backlog of untested kits is certainly in the thousands. Victim advocates say the question is, how many thousands?

No one can accurately answer that question — at least not until Dec. 1. That’s when a report to lawmakers is due from Indiana State Police, detailing the number of untested kits warehoused by law enforcement agencies around the state.

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Untested Rape Kit Update
May 25th, 2011 • Marie Claire
Abby Gardener
Yesterday, our deputy editor received a email with a message that was long overdue from rape victim Helena Lazaro. read more
Untested rape kits in Idaho raise concerns
November 9, 2016 • The Salt Lake Tribune
The Associated Press
Police chief Chris Allgood says he doesn’t want to put DNA into database if crime not committed. read more
Victims' Group: SD Rape Kit Testing Law a Mixed Bag
April 20, 2016 • Public News Service
Brandon Campbell

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota's new rape kit testing law is now in effect, but a sexual assault victims' group argues it may not go far enough to tackle the state's backlog. 

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Want a Real Reason to Be Outraged?
October 27, 2012 • The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
The silliness began when Todd Akin claimed during his Senate campaign in Missouri that in the case of “legitimate rape,” women “shut that whole thing down” to prevent pregnancy. Then, a few days ago, Richard Mourdock of Indiana seemed to blame God for such pregnancies, saying this was “something God intended to happen.” I think God should sue him for defamation. read more
Wayne Co. prosecutor wins praise from actress for rape kit efforts
March 14, 2013 • The Detroit News
David Shepardson
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy lobbied Wednesday for more federal support to test a backlog of more than 10,000 rape kits from Detroit and won praise from a national advocate for victims of sexual assault. After initially testing 400 of the kits picked at random from a backlog of 11,300 that were found in a Detroit police storage facility in 2009 for a pilot project, Worthy said they have completed testing another 398 rape kits. read more
Wayne Co. Prosecutor Worthy lobbies for more rape kit testing funds
March 13, 2013 • The Detroit News
David Shepardson
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy lobbied Wednesday for more federal support to test a backlog of more than 10,000 rape kits from the city of Detroit and won praise from a national advocate for victims of sexual assault. read more
Wayne County must put safety of its communities first: Sarah Tofte
June 6, 2013 • Detroit Free Press
Sarah Tofte
With Wednesday’s announcement that the State of Michigan may provide $4 million in funding to help test old rape kit evidence in Detroit, Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette made it clear that preventing and prosecuting sexual assaults in Detroit is a priority. read more
We’re Letting Untested Rape Kits Languish In Warehouses And It Has Huge Consequences
May 21, 2015 • Think Progress
TARA CULP-RESSLER

Despite more than a billion dollars in public funding dedicated to helping law enforcement officials test the DNA evidence collected in rape kits, there’s still a huge backlog of untested kits collecting dust in storage facilities across the country, according to advocates who testified at a Senate committee hearing this week.

Because DNA evidence is collected on a local level, we have no idea exactly how many rape kits are languishing unopened in massive warehouses. Advocacy groups in the field believe that the total number is in the hundreds of thousands.

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White House, NYC prosecutor pledge $79 million to test rape kits
September 10, 2015 • Al Jazeera
Funding will go toward DNA testing on an estimated 70,000 rape kits, which are often backlogged because of expense. read more
Why 5,396 sexual assault kits went untested in Indiana
December 1, 2017 • The Indianapolis Star
Marisa Kwiatkowski

There are 5,396 sexual assault kits held in police custody that have not been tested, according to the results of an Indiana State Police audit.

State senators had adopted a resolution in April that urged State Police to count the number of untested sexual assault kits throughout the state and determine reasons why they were not tested.

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Why an Ohio Supreme Court case involving rape kits is drawing national attention
February 17, 2016 • Cleveland.com
Rachel Dissel

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A Cleveland rape case in the hands of the Ohio Supreme Court could result in tougher standards for prosecuting cases reopened after tests on thousands rape kits, some that had been shelved for decades.

State and national victims' advocacy groups are closely watching the case. They've filed legal briefs warning that, if an appeals court decision stands, it could undermine justice for rape survivors and allow serial rapists to evade prosecution.

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Why Are These Rapes Still Unsolved?
September 28th, 2010 • The Daily Beast
Linda Fairstein
On tonight’s Law & Order: SVU, police will discover thousands of unexamined rape kits—a chilling premise that’s not just fiction. Linda Fairstein on how the real backlog could solve countless crimes. read more
Why Haven't 70,000 Rape Kits Been Tested for DNA?
July 20, 2015 • NBC News
Kate Snow and Rich McHugh

Hundreds of thousands of rape kits that could identify serial sexual attackers are sitting untested by police departments across the country — despite promises and federal funds to clear the backlog, a new agency-by-agency count suggests.

Documents obtained exclusively by USA TODAY Media Network, an NBC News partner, uncovered more than 70,000 neglected forensic evidence kits amassed by more than 1,000 police agencies. That's just a fraction of the nation's 18,000 police departments, so the total number of untested kits is likely far higher.

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Why One Ohio Court Case Could Be Detrimental for Rape Victims Everywhere
February 8, 2016 • Broadly.
Lindsay Schrupp
Despite Ohio's extensive initiative to test thousands of previously untested, backlogged rape kits, one Ohio Supreme Court case could affect the ways in which future rape cases are prosecuted. read more
Why rapists have a 76 percent chance of getting away with the crime
August 25, 2013 • Alabama.com
Sarah Tofte
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. read more

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