Inventory untested rape kits?
Test backlogged rape kits?
Test newly collected rape kits?
Grant victims rights to notice and be informed?
Track rape kits?
Appropriate funding for rape kit reform?
In 2010, Illinois became the first state to enact a law requiring a statewide audit and rape kit testing. The 2010 law led to a wave of similar rape kit reform bills in state legislatures across the U.S.
In 2015, The Accountability Project issued open records requests to bring the number of untested kits in, Urbana, Springfield, Chicago, and Champaign to light. Through our efforts, we have learned that Urbana submitted 92% of all rape kits received between 2001 and 2015 to the lab for testing. As of January 2017, the remaining 16 untested rape kits have been submitted to the lab for testing. We have also learned that Springfield submitted 93% of all kits received to the lab for testing between 2005 and 2015. As of January 2016, the Springfield Police Department reported 43 untested kits in storage. As of June 2017, all untested tested rape kits in Champaign have been submitted to the lab for testing, in accordance with state law. To date, we have not received a complete response from Chicago.
In 2016, Illinois enacted a law requiring an annual statewide audit of rape kits.
Also in 2016, Illinois enacted a law that builds upon the existing rape kit law and improves the state’s response to sexual assault. The law requires trauma-informed training for law enforcement investigators, first responders and 911 operators; law enforcement officers to complete written reports of every sexual assault complaint; and law enforcement agencies and 911 centers to have trauma-informed, survivor-centered policies governing sexual assault responses. The law also grants victims the right to know the status of their kits.
In 2017, Illinois enacted a law creating a commission to research and develop a plan for a statewide rape kit tracking system, which must allow secure electronic access for survivors to track the status of their kits.
In 2018, lawmakers expanded victims' rights by enacting a law that allows victims to shower at the hospital after a medical forensic examination, obtain a copy of their police report, and have a sexual assault advocate and a support person of their choosing present during the medical and physical examinations. The law also extends the time period law enforcement must retain kits from victims who did not immediately consent to DNA testing of their kit from 5 years to 10 years. Legislators also enacted a law requiring training of a sufficient number of medical professionals in treating sexual assault patients so that a trained medical professional would be available to treat a sexual assault patient within 90 minutes of presenting at the hospital.
In 2019, legislators introduced a bill that would require the Department of State Police (ISP) to develop rules to implement a rape kit tracking system per the recommendations of the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission. The system, which is to be developed and administered by ISP, must allow for survivors to opt in for automatic notifications when status updates are entered, if the system allows, and provide a mechanism for survivors to enter the system and access only their information. Medical facilities would be required to participate, and the system must contain reporting functions including a function allowing law enforcement to produce their annual rape kit inventory. Read our letter of support. A similar bill is also pending in the Illinois Senate.
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