Governor Baker Signs $8 Million Investment in Rape Kit Reform

For Immediate Release: April 1, 2019
Contact: Melissa Schwartz, media@endthebacklog.org

NEW YORK – With Governor Charlie Baker’s signature, Massachusetts has made an $8 million investment to test all rape kits in police custody and ensure rape kits reforms enacted in 2018 are implemented successfully. With the passage of the state’s budget bill, Massachusetts has now enacted all six pillars of reform recommended by the Joyful Heart Foundation and leaders in this field.

Joyful Heart, a national leader in the effort to eliminate the rape kit backlog, celebrated the state legislature’s passage of S. 2371, the 2018 omnibus criminal justice bill that included sweeping rape kit reforms around the handling and processing of sexual assault kits. That bill codified five of Joyful Heart’s six pillars of reform by mandating an annual statewide inventory of rape kits, the timely testing of newly collected rape kits, and the submission and testing of all backlogged kits; establishing a statewide rape kit tracking system; and granting victims the right to know the status of their kits.

“Behind every kit is a person—a sexual assault survivor—waiting for justice. This law demonstrates Massachusetts’s commitment to offering a path to healing and justice for sexual assault survivors and strengthening public safety for its citizens,” said Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy & Advocacy for Joyful Heart. “We are grateful to Minority Leader Bradley Jones and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, who have been steadfast advocates for this work. Massachusetts would not have reached reform without the ongoing collaboration with statewide officials, legislators and advocates.”

Testing rape kits is the first step to comprehensive reform. But once the problem is acknowledged and initial kits are sent for testing, jurisdictions must grapple with the enormous task of finding a way to: test all rape kits in their storage facilities, investigate and prosecute these cases, re-engage survivors in the process, and address any systemic failures that led to the backlog in the first place.

“Ending the rape kit backlog takes political will, but it also takes significant resources. Implementation of state laws often depends on whether law enforcement, crime labs, and prosecutors receive additional resources and funding dedicated to clearing the backlog and pursuing leads. Today’s investment is a critical step in this process.”

Joyful Heart remains committed to advocating for additional funding to help implement comprehensive reform. We have created the premier national resource about the rape kit backlog, which includes an interactive map and resources for survivors, legislators, and the media. Learn more at: ENDTHEBACKLOG.org.

###

The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever. www.joyfulheartfoundation.org

keep up with backlog news

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