Does Maryland law require...
An Audit of Untested Rape Kits?
Yes – One-Time
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?
In January 2017, the State Attorney General's Office released an audit report that found 3,700 untested rape kits statewide. Maryland law does not require law enforcement agencies to track or test rape kits.
In 2014, The Accountability Project issued an open records request to bring the number of untested kits in Baltimore to light. To date, we have not received complete information in response to this request. In August 2016, the Department of Justice found that, between 2010 and 2014, the Baltimore Police Department tested rape kits in just 15% of sexual assault cases, and otherwise systematically failed sexual assault survivors.
In 2015, Maryland enacted a law requiring law enforcement agencies to conduct a one-time audit of untested rape kits by January 2016 and submit a written report to the Attorney General in March 2016. The report is due to the General Assembly by December 2016.
That same year, Maryland also enacted a law requiring health care professionals to provide victims with the investigating law enforcement agency’s contact information to inquire about the status of their case. The law requires law enforcement to inform a victim about the status of the rape kit testing and all available results, upon the victim’s request.
In 2017, Maryland legislators introduced multiple rape kit reform bills:
- H.B. 1076, which requires law enforcement agencies to submit certain kits to a lab for analysis within 30 days of receipt and notify the survivor of testing results; requires the lab to test kits within 50 days of receipt; requires healthcare providers to give survivors contact information for local law enforcement agencies; and requires law enforcement agencies to respond to all survivour requests for information about kit status within 30 days of receipt. The testing requirements in this bill would apply to both backlogged and newly collected kits.
- H.B. 255 and S.B. 349, which require law enforcement and other agencies to preserve all newly collected rape kits be preserved for 20 years following collection, notify survivors at least 60 days before planned kit destruction, and keep kits for longer, upon written request. These bills also grant survivors the right to receive, within 30 days of request, information about the location and status of their kits.
- H.B. 1141 and S.B. 1094, which require the State Police to develop a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system that allows survivors to anonymously track or receive updates regarding the status of their kits. These bills also require the State Police to periodically report an array of metrics regarding the number of kits in the system and how long it takes for them to be tested.
- H.B. 1209 and S.B. 734, which establish the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee.
- H.B. 1404, which requires the Secretary of State Police, the Forensic Laboratory Advisory Committee, and the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene to collaborate on research and make recommendations to improve the collection, handling, and testing of rape kits in Maryland.
- S.B. 780 and H.B. 260, which require a county or municipality to arrange a third-party audit of sexual assault cases if the percentage of unfounded cases in the county or municipality exceeds the national average by 5% or more.
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