Rape Kit Backlog Audit '#1 priority this year' for Kentucky Auditor's Office

In January 2015, Kentucky Senator Denise Harper Angel (D) introduced legislation that would take the first step in eliminating the state's backlog of untested rape kits. Senate Joint Resolution 20 was delivered to the Governor this month after being passed in both the House and Senate unanimously. This bill requires a state audit of all untested rape kits in the custody of law enforcement agencies by November 1, 2015. Once complete, the Auditor of Public Accounts will report the findings of the audit to the Legislative Research Commission. 

Auditor Adam Edelen’s office is in charge of the audit and is working, in collaboration with Kentucky State Police and the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs.  The office has begun developing a survey questionnaire to be distributed to each of Kentucky’s 300 law enforcement agencies in April to measure the extent of the backlog problem. The surveys will ask for the agency’s  number of untested kits in storage, as well as local law enforcement policies regarding submission, retention, tracking and storage of the kits. Right now, local law enforcement in Kentucky are not required to submit all kits for testing to the State Police central lab. 

The Auditors office plans to expand the goals of the initiative and propose policy reforms that will ensure the responsible handling of rape kits in the future. Once each agency completes and submits the survey, the Auditor’s office also plans to conduct follow up interviews with select agencies to ascertain more clarity around rape kit policies. Auditor Edelen’s team will examine the current policies in place at law enforcement agencies and study best practices from other states addressing their backlog. The audit will conclude with a set of findings and recommendations, potentially including suggestions such as submitting all kits to the Kentucky State Police lab and creating a uniform rape kit tracking system that law enforcement agencies will be required to utilize. The Auditor’s Office has stated that this statewide audit of untested rape kits is their “#1 priority this year.”

Recent reports state that the Kentucky State Police have about 350 untested rape kits in evidence storage. The director of the Kentucky State Police’s lab system, Laura Sudkamp, has shared that the police believe there could be a total of 2,000 to 5,000 untested rape kits in the state of Kentucky.

- By Vivian Long with files from Sophia Schrager, March 27th 2015

ENDTHEBACKLOG is a program 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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