Indiana Passes Critical Step in Effort to Implement Rape Kit Reform

For Immediate Release: March 14, 2018

Contact: Melissa Schwartz, media@endthebacklog.org

NEW YORK – The Joyful Heart Foundation today applauded the Indiana state legislature’s passage of S.B. 264, which takes the first step towards creating a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system. This important milestone in the effort to undertake rape kit reform in Indiana is the result of collaboration led by Senator Michael Crider, survivor and advocate Michelle Kuiper, the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault, and Joyful Heart.

DNA evidence is an invaluable tool for investigating and solving violent crimes. Yet too often, the decision is made not to test these kits. In fact, there are currently hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities across the country.

Currently, law enforcement agencies and crime labs in Indiana are not required to count, test or track rape kits, and there is no way for sexual assault survivors to know the location and status of their kits. In 2017, the Indiana Senate adopted a resolution requesting a one-time statewide audit of untested rape kits. The inventory report, published in November 2017, identified 4,980 backlogged rape kits connected to reported crimes across the state.

S.B. 264 requires the statewide sexual assault response team to research the creation of a tracking system and designate an appropriate agency to maintain responsibility for the system’s creation and management, determine the resources needed to develop the system, and identify sources of funding. The team must report findings to the legislative council by December 1, 2018.

Below is a statement from Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy & Advocacy for the Joyful Heart Foundation:

“The Joyful Heart Foundation is proud to stand with Senator Crider and our partners in Indiana who worked to bring S.B. 264 to the Governor’s desk. This is an important step forward for the standardization of how rape kits are handled across the state, and the start of true reform in Indiana.

“Statewide tracking systems are an important accountability mechanism for ensuring that all rape kits associated with a reported crime are collected, transported, and tested in an expeditious manner. When law enforcement agencies inventory and track the untested kits in their custody, communities can begin to take steps to test those kits, hold offenders accountable and bring justice to sexual assault survivors whose cases have languished, often for years—or even decades.

“But our work is not done. Behind every kit is a person—a sexual assault survivor—waiting for justice.

“Joyful Heart stands with every survivor who has taken the step of reporting the crime to the police and endured an invasive examination in search of DNA evidence left behind by the attacker. We are committed to working with the Indiana state legislature to pursue additional legislative reforms, and hope this passage helps inspire further action and greater transparency.”

Ending the rape kit backlog will take a coordinated effort and deep commitment at all levels of government and in communities across the United States. Joyful Heart has launched a national campaign, developed following an extensive review, which formalized six pillars for reform. The goal: to pass comprehensive rape kit reform legislation in all 50 states. 

As Joyful Heart commits to working with Indiana to achieve the remaining pillars, we will continue to advocate for federal funds to assist jurisdictions working to implement comprehensive reform.

Joyful Heart has 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