Does Washington law require...
An Audit of Untested Rape Kits?
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?
The extent of the untested rape kit backlog in Washington is unknown. In 2015, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) surveyed law enforcement agencies and announced a backlog of at least 5,881 untested kits across the state. In 2015, Washington enacted a law establishing a task force to determine the number of untested kits in the state, research where these untested kits were stored, and develop a plan to address the state’s untested kits. The task force must report its findings and recommendations annually beginning in September 2016.
In 2014, The Accountability Project issued an open records request to bring the number of untested rape kits in Seattle to light. Through this request, we uncovered a backlog of 1,276 untested kits in Seattle, prompting a local and statewide conversation about reform.
The 2015 law also required law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits for testing within 30 days of receipt. In the same year, Washington legislators also appropriated $2,750,000 to test newly collected kits.
In 2016, Washington enacted a law establishing a statewide rape kit tracking system and creating a training grant for law enforcement and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). The same year, Washington legislators appropriated nearly $3,800,000 to fund the statewide tracking system.
In 2017, Washington legislators introduced multiple rape kit reform bills:
- H.B. 1109, which would create the Washington Sexual Assault Initiative Pilot Project, a grant program to fund the local inventory and submission of backlogged kits, as well as the investigation and prosecution of cases that arise from the testing of these kits. The bill also strengthens requirements for victim-centered, trauma-informed training for various law enforcement positions statewide.
- S.B. 5686, which would grant sexual assault survivors key rights, including the right to consult with an advocate during the forensic medical exam and any interviews and the right to receive information about the status and location of their kit in writing.
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