Joyful Heart in the News

Faced With Staggering Backlogs of Rape Kits, States Change Testing, Investigations

February 17, 2016
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Rebecca Beitsch

Seeking to secure justice for thousands of rape victims, about 20 states are moving to test a backlog of unexamined rape kits found in storage rooms in police departments across the country — and change the rules for how rape cases are handled in the future.

Some states, including Colorado, Illinois, Ohio and Texas, already have passed laws that require that old kits be tested, and have seen charges brought against suspects as a result. In several states, including Michigan and Tennessee, law enforcement agencies face new time limits for submitting rape kits for testing. In others, law enforcement agencies were ordered to make a full count of their backlogged kits before state officials decide how to go about testing them.

This year, Arizona, Hawaii, New Hampshire and New York are considering bills that would require an inventory of backlogged rape kits. Oregon is considering legislation that would require testing the old kits, and Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island are considering bills that would require both, according to the Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit founded by actress Mariska Hargitay of the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit television program and which advocates for the testing of all rape kits.  


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