In August 2014, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah has an estimated backlog of 2,700 untested rape kits. Like most states, Utah does not require its law enforcement agencies to count and test rape kits. In fact, just three states do—Colorado, Illinois and Texas—and because of the reforms these states have implemented, we now have a more accurate picture of the backlog there. This can happen in Utah, too. Take action today to advocate for transparency and change from our elected officials.
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In addition to what we know about the backlog in Salt Lake City, there is also information about the backlog from other jurisdictions in the state.
On January 1, 2014, The Salt Lake Tribune reported backlogs of untested rape kits in several jurisdictions in Utah. West Valley City had 124 untested rape kits in police storage facilities. The Unified Police Department had between 50 and 100 untested rape kits—the oldest one collected in a 20-year-old case. The Tribune also reports that at the Utah State Crime Lab, 97 rape kits await analysis.
To help end the backlog, the state legislature appropriated $750,000 in June 2014, for private labs to analyze a portion of the previously untested kits. The Utah Department of Public Safety anticipated issuing a contract before the end of the year. West Valley Police Department was the first to submit 15 of its kits for processing and anticipated submitting an additional 30 kits by December 2014.
In May 2014, Utah enacted legislation that amends the state's victim's bill of rights to include: the right to be informed whether a DNA profile was obtained from testing rape kit evidence, whether a DNA profile was developed, whether the DNA profile was uploaded into the DNA database, and whether the profile matched another in the database, provided that disclosure would not impede the investigation. Law enforcement is not required to convey this information unless the survivor or a designee specifically requests it.
The new law also requires law enforcement agencies to notify survivors when they do not intend to analyze rape kit evidence in cases where the perpetrator is unknown. When law enforcement intends to destroy rape kit evidence, they are required to send a written notification of the intention, no fewer than 60 days prior to the destruction, and include information on how to appeal that decision.
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