We track progress across all 50 states according to our six legislative pillars of comprehensive rape kit reform. These are criteria that our staff of experts—in consultation with survivors, fellow advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, and policymakers—have determined to be critical elements in eliminating the untested rape kit backlog once and for all. Joyful Heart is currently leading a legislative campaign to enact these pillars, in law, in all 50 states. Read more about the colors of our interactive END THE BACKLOG map below.
Our six pillars are:
- Audits or Inventories
States must legislatively mandate recurring, statewide inventories of rape kits. While counting untested rape kits is a key first step toward reform, states must also implement one or more of the pillars below to meet our standards for limited or comprehensive reform.
- Testing of all untested/backlogged rape kits
States must mandate a deadline for sending all previously untested kits to the crime lab for analysis.
- Testing of all newly collected rape kits
State must mandate deadlines for the submission and testing of all newly collected rape kits going forward.
- Victims' rights to notice and to be informed
State law must grant victims the right to receive information about their cases and rape kits.
If a state law has mandated the implementation of a tracking system that can follow the path of a rape kit throughout the entire process—from collection to the crime lab—it is considered to have met this criterion.
State laws must allocate sufficient funding. If a state law has allocated funding streams for its rape kit reform efforts through legislation, it is considered to have met this criterion.
About our Map Colors
States where a complete statewide audit has been conducted are represented by dark gray on the interactive END THE BACKLOG map. This includes states where audits have been mandated by legislation, governors, attorney generals, or by other means. While we believe a one-time audit, no matter how it was initiated, is illuminating and informs the resources a state must dedicate to further reform, state legislatures should also mandate regular ongoing audits, as well as additional reforms.
If between one and four of criteria 2 through 6 (above) have been met, a state is considered to have implemented limited rape kit reform, and is represented by light blue. For example: if a statewide audit has been conducted and the legislature has enacted mandatory submission deadlines for testing backlogged kits, the state will be light blue. Or if a state legislature has enacted victim notification reform, mandatory submission deadlines for testing backlogged kits, and deadlines for the submission of all new kits, the state will be light blue. Or if a state legislature has enacted victim notification reform, mandatory submission deadlines for testing backlogged kits, and deadlines for the submission of all new kits, the state will be light blue.
If all of the above criteria have been met through legislative efforts, a state is considered to have implemented comprehensive rape kit reform, and is represented by dark blue.
States that have any of the above reforms under consideration in their legislatures—regardless of whether they have previously implemented any level of reform—are represented by yellow.
States that have not implemented any reform whatsoever are represented by light gray. This includes states where audits may have been mandated but not yet completed.
We believe systemic and lasting change will take effect through legislation. While we commend the attorney generals, auditors, and other officials at the local and state levels who have made rape kit reform a priority for their offices, change must also be codified in law.
We need you to make this happen. Make your voice heard to your elected officials today.