This year, as Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and legislators tangled over the best way to solve Alaska’s budget woes, he quietly launched a mandate to do right by Alaska’s victims of sexual assault.
Ten months ago, Walker tasked all state of Alaska departments and law enforcement agencies with the duty to collect, maintain, store and preserve sexual assault kits to find out how many kits exist that have never made it into the hands of DNA analysts for review.
State Auditor Tim Keller announced Wednesday a series of meetings across New Mexico to discuss the statewide backlog of evidence in 5,400 rape cases that might have pinpointed suspects through DNA analysis but instead have sat untested in police evidence rooms.
“Across the country, hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested: many jurisdictions don’t mandate rape kit testing, and it’s generally considered a low priority for law enforcement, according to ENDTHEBACKLOG, a nonprofit working to eliminate the rape kit backlog. Last year, the Manhattan DA gave $38 million in grants to 32 jurisdictions in 20 states across the country to help tackle the national backlog, and since then, 494 DNA profiles have been uploaded to the national database, with 70% of them resulting in a hit, according to the DA’s office.”
Yesterday, the White House held a Summit on Women, where speakers discussed how the nation is moving forward to address issues affecting women and girls. At this Summit, NIJ launched it’s special report, Down the Road: Testing Evidence in Sexual Assaults to help practitioners and advocates understand the larger context of improving the justice system’s response to sexual assault.
Read about NIJ’s work on testing sexual assault kits in Down the Road.
MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) — — “There are definitely cases right now that are backlogged at the state lab,” said Matthew Gamette, Idaho State forensic lab director said.
The lab director inside the Idaho Forensics lab says the goal is to complete DNA kits within 30 days.
More than 140,000 untested rape evidence kits are collecting dust in crime labs throughout the country – denying justice for rape survivors waiting for the results and allowing rapists to commit more sexual assaults.
Virginia has joined a handful of states that have taken legislative action to end the backlog by adopting a law to ensure that the commonwealth’s untested kits will be processed quickly beginning July 1.
SACRAMENTO — One minute they were getting into their car on Allston Way in Berkeley just before 10 on an unseasonably warm Friday night. The next, a stranger had a black handgun to their heads.
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Just more than four years ago, Attorney General Mike DeWine asked Ohio police departments to follow Cleveland’s lead in clearing evidence room shelves of untested rape kits.
This week forensic analysts at a beefed-up state DNA lab will test the 10,000th sexual assault kit submitted as part of the statewide initiative.
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has launched a statewide audit of untested rape kits Tuesday, surveying more than 400 of Iowa’s law enforcement agencies to gauge how many of these kits are in Iowa.
RICHMOND, VA (NEWSPLEX) — Attorney General Mark Herring’s Office and the Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences are moving forward with plans to test thousands of sexual assault evidence and physical evidence recovery kits.
Virginia has finalized a contract with Bode Cellmark Forensics to do the testing at a Northern Virginia facility.
In his State of the Commonwealth Address Tuesday night, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced that he had allocated $4.5 million in state funding to address the state’s backlog of untested rape kits. The kits are used in sexual assault investigations in hopes of collecting potentially valuable forensic and DNA evidence.
A state audit released in late 2015 found Kentucky has more than 3000 untested rape kits. The audit also found that, typically, there is an eight month delay from when the kit is sent to the state crime lab to when the kit is processed.
This 2.5-minute video explains what a sexual assault kit is and how investigators use it. The video is part of a series created by NIJ and the FBI Laboratory in Quantico to describe the NIJ-FBI partnership to test sexual assault kits that have not been submitted to a forensics laboratory. The partnership is helping to shed light on the complexities of sexual assault evidence processing. The team is using scientific methods to assess current practices and find new practices that improve the quality and speed of testing sexual assault kits.
More than 13,000 rape evidence kits have gone untested or unprocessed in Florida, and clearing the backlog could cost the state tens of millions of dollars, according to study results released Monday.
The study, conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement from August to December 2015, found that 13,435 sexual assault evidence kits across the state have not been tested (PDF). That means that forensic evidence was collected from possible rape victims but has not been processed in order to match DNA evidence with possible suspects.
The FDLE is expected to release the results of thousands of backlogged rape kits Monday.
In Florida, there are 11,000 untested kits from more than 260 agencies, including those in the Bay area.
This could pave the way for healing, justice and closure for rape survivors.
In August last year, a special fast track court (FTC) dealing with cases of sexual assault on women asked for the crucial forensic report in a 2014 case of alleged rape and murder in South Delhi. After repeated reminders, the forensic department finally informed the court this September that the report’s “results are not yet ready”.
On September 8, leaving the Delhi police and forensic agencies red-faced, additional sessions judge (ASJ) Devendra Kumar Sharma said: “…in the Sheena Bora case, which is under media scrutiny, even the DNA test is carried out within one month. This kind of promptness is required in all cases related to heinous offences. But unfortunately, same is not done even in the present case where allegation is of murder after committing rape…”