24,000 Untested Rape Kits Reported in 7 States

In recent months, officials in seven states have counted the number of untested rape kits in law enforcement evidence facilities, and reported partial or complete audit results.

 

Their findings? Nearly 24,000 untested rape kits.

 

This number would be shocking, if we had not seen similar results across the country: when officials go in to count their untested kits, they find them. Often dozens or hundreds—sometimes thousands.

 

This number is likely to rise as audits progress and state officials attempt to increase participation rates by law enforcement agencies.

 

Alaska: 3,800*

Arizona: 6,424

Georgia: 3,500*

Hawai‘i: 1,814*

Maryland: 3,765*

Montana: 1,410

Pennsylvania: 3,044

*preliminary or incomplete count

 

Alaska

Backlog: 3,800 untested rape kits

Status: In progress

In the fall of 2015, after several legislative audit bills stalled in committee, Alaska Governor Bill Walker requested that law enforcement agencies count and report the number of untested rape kits held in storage across the state. As of October 2016, the Governor's Office has counted 3,800 untested rape kits

 

Arizona

Backlog: 6,424 untested rape kits

Status: Complete

In January 2016, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order establishing the Arizona Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Task Force. In September 2016, the Task Force reported that there are 6,424 untested rape kits in law enforcement custody across the state.

 

Georgia

Backlog: 3,500 untested rape kits

Status: In progress

This year, Georgia legislators passed a law requiring law enforcement agencies across the state to conduct an inventory of untested rape kits and submit their findings to the state lab by the end of August. As of this deadline, the state crime lab reported being notified of at least 3,500 untested rape kits in police custody across the state. A complete audit report is due in December 2016.

 

Hawai‘i

Backlog: 1,814 untested rape kits

Status: In progress

This year, Hawai‘i legislators passed a law that, in part, requires all law enforcement agencies to report how many untested rape kits they have in custody to the Attorney General by September 2016. Though several law enforcement agencies missed the reporting deadline, partial backlog numbers have been released. The Honolulu Police Department reported 1,512 untested rape kits, the Kauai Police Department reported 150 untested rape kits, and the Maui Police Department reported 152 untested rape kits in custody. The Attorney General will release a complete audit report in December 2016.

 

Maryland

Backlog: 3,765 untested rape kits

Status: In progress

In 2015, Maryland enacted a law requiring law enforcement agencies to comply with a one-time audit of untested rape kits in storage. Although the final audit report is not due until December 2016, media sources filed a public records request with the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention for the numbers reported by each agency. In October 2016, WBAL reported that, based on preliminary audit results, there are 3,765 untested rape kits across the state.

 

Montana

Backlog: 1,410 untested rape kits

Status: Complete

In 2015, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced that he would appoint a Montana Sexual Assault Evidence Task Force to address the state's backlog of untested rape kits. After completing a statewide survey, the task force announced that there were 1,410 untested rape kits in law enforcement custody. 

 

Pennsylvania

Backlog: 3,044 untested rape kits

Status: Complete

In 2015, Pennsylvania legislators passed a law requiring an annual audit of untested rape kits in storage at law enforcement agencies across the state. A preliminary audit conducted in 2016 revealed a total of 3,044 untested rape kits in Pennsylvania. In September 2016, Audit General Eugene DePasquale published a report on the backlog, explaining that 1,852 of these untested kits had been awaiting testing for over a year, and addressing problems with the audit process. Due to low participation from law enforcement agencies (only a third of agencies reported), the total number of untested kits statewide may be higher than reported here.

 

- By Ilse Knecht, November 22, 2016

END THE BACKLOG is an initiative of the Joyful Heart Foundation to shine a light on the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the United States. Our goal is to end this injustice by conducting groundbreaking research identifying the extent of the nation’s backlog and best practices for eliminating it, expanding the national dialogue on rape kit testing through increased public awareness, engaging communities and government agencies and officials and advocating for comprehensive rape kit reform legislation and policies at the local, state and federal levels. We urge you to learn more about the backlog, where it exists and why it matters. We invite you to take action and support efforts to test rape kits. Help us send the message that we must take rape seriously.

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