How We Determine and Track State Reforms

We track the progress of all 50 states in enacting laws and policies embracing our six legislative pillars of comprehensive rape kit reform. These are criteria our staff of experts—in consultation with survivors, advocates, law enforcement, forensic experts, prosecutors, and policymakers—have determined are critical elements in eliminating the untested rape kit backlog once and for all. Joyful Heart is currently leading a legislative campaign to secure and implement these reforms in all 50 states. Read more about our six pillars and the colors in our interactive END THE BACKLOG map below. Then visit the map to see how your state measures up.

  1. Annual Inventories
    States must have comprehensive knowledge of the number and location of all untested kits. This requires the participation of law enforcement, medical facilities, and forensic laboratories. The number and location of all kits connected to a reported crime must be publicly available. Federal best practices recommend a recurring, annual inventory and publication of the results online.
  2. Testing of all untested/backlogged rape kits
    States must have tested all backlogged kits connected to a reported crime, have legislation requiring it, or have a plan in place with deadlines to identify and submit these kits to a lab and test them.
  3. Testing of all newly collected rape kits
    States have established deadlines for submitting all newly collected kits connected to a reported crime to a lab and testing them.
  4. Victims' rights to notice and to be informed
    State law must grant victims the right to receive information about their cases and the status and location of their rape kits. Ideally, the law should mandate survivors receive notice about how to access this information and how to contact a liason at the law enforcement agency investigating their case. It should also require this information to be accessible to victims online.
  5. Tracking
    States must establish an electronic rape kit tracking system or have a plan and deadline for implementation in place to follow the path of a kit throughout the entire process—from collection to final disposition. The system must require the participation of law enforcement, medical facilities, and forensic laboratories and ideally provide a secure, anonymous portal through which survivors can track their kit.
  6. Funding
    States must allocate or secure funding to help implement these pillars, with an emphasis on testing backlogged and future kits.

About our Map Colors

States where a complete statewide inventory has been conducted are represented by dark gray on the interactive END THE BACKLOG map. This includes states where inventories have been mandated by legislation, governors, attorneys general, or by other means. While a one-time inventory, no matter how it was initiated, is illuminating and informs the resources a state must dedicate to further reform, state legislatures should also mandate ongoing annual inventories, as well as additional reforms.

A state that has met any one of the six pillars is colored light blue.

If all of the above criteria have been met, 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 inventories may have been mandated but not yet completed. 

We are confident systemic and lasting change will be effected through legislation. While we commend the attorneys general, auditors, and other officials at the local and state levels who have made rape kit reform a priority for their offices, change must be codified in law to have lasting impact.

We need your help to make this happen. Contact your elected officials today.

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END THE BACKLOG is a JOYFUL HEART FOUNDATION initiative and a proud supporter of