Does New Jersey...
Inventory untested rape kits?
Test backlogged rape kits?
Test newly collected rape kits?
Grant victims rights to notice and be informed?
Track rape kits?
Appropriate funding for rape kit reform?
The extent of the untested rape kit backlog in New Jersey is unknown. New Jersey law does not require law enforcement agencies to count, track, or test rape kits.
In 2014, The Accountability Project issued an open records request to bring the number of untested kits in Atlantic City and Camden to light. In 2015, we issued an open records request to bring the number of untested kits in Trenton to light. As of March 2017, we have closed our inquiry into these three cities.
- Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD) did not fully respond to our request. ACPD stated that the total number of kits collected between 2004 and 2014, and the total number of these that remain in their custody, are “unknown.” ACPD took no additional measures to attempt to provide this information. As such, we were unable to ascertain the number and testing status of rape kits in the custody of ACPD.
- As of November 2014, Camden indicated that “no records exist” regarding the number of rape kits collected or stored by the police. As such, we were unable to ascertain the number and testing status of rape kits in the custody of the Camden Police Department.
- The Trenton Police Department (TPD) has not fully responded to our request. TPD stated that they did not have any documentation regarding rape kits collected or submitted for testing. In December 2016, Trenton denied our second FOIA request.
In 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s signed S.1216, which requires a one-time inventory of all untested rape kits in the state. This legislation is New Jersey’s first step toward comprehensive rape kit reform. Under the law, the attorney general—in consultation with the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault—is required to conduct a survey of sexual assault examination kits in the possession of law enforcement agencies in this state that have not been submitted to a laboratory for testing. The survey is required to include, but not be limited to, questions concerning: agency policies and procedures governing the submission of sexual assault examination kits to an approved forensic laboratory for testing, including specific submission criteria, timelines, and victim notifications; agency policies and procedures for logging, tracking, and storing sexual assault examination kits; descriptive, statistical, and other relevant information about the sexual assault examination kits currently in the agency’s possession. The bill requires the attorney general to distribute the survey to all law enforcement agencies in the state and requires these agencies to submit responses in a timely manner.
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