Why Testing Rape Kits Matters

"DNA technology is the guilty person's worst enemy and the innocent person's greatest friend."
- Vice President Joe Biden

Rape kit testing sends a message to survivors that they—and their cases—matter. It sends a message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable for their crimes. It also demonstrates a commitment to survivors to do everything possible to bring healing and justice.

"Finally, my nightmares have stopped almost altogether. I have a sense of security that I haven’t felt in over a decade. My home is my own. My family is safe.”
- Survivor, speaking about getting the results of an analysis of her rape kit after 13 years

Jurisdictions across the country have begun to witness the benefits of testing every rape kit. When tested, rape kit evidence can identify an unknown assailant, link crimes together, and identify serial offenders. It can also confirm the presence of a known suspect, affirm the survivor's account of the attack, discredit the suspect, and exonerate the innocent. Testing rape kits also saves communities millions of dollars. 

Detroit's initiative to test all 11,341 kits in its storage facilities has resulted in 2,616 matches made on the DNA database, identifying 770 potential serial rapists who have committed crimes in 40 states and Washington, D.C. 

Over the past several years, Cleveland has submitted 4,373 kits for testing, yielding 1,898 matches in the DNA database. More than 515 defendants have been indicted as a result.  The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office anticipates indicting over 1,000 defendants within the next five years—a third of them serial rapists—as a result of clearing the backlog. 

Many communities' rape kit testing efforts are taking violent offenders off the streetsmany whom have escaped justice for decadesand improving public safety. 

But not only does testing rape kits make communities safer, it also saves them millions of dollars. According to a study from the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland backlog testing program has saved the community a net total of $38.7 million dollars, or $8,893 per tested sexual assault kit. 

"Testing is the first step in bringing justice to long neglected victims. The next important steps are investigation and prosecution. People should be aware that these kits contain valuable evidence that can assist law enforcement in preventing future rapes, robberies, home invasions and even homicides.”
- Kym Worthy, Wayne County (Michigan) Prosecutor

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