We understand how challenging it can be to navigate the legal system, especially around cases of sexual violence. Although laws are in place in every state to provide survivors with greater access to the criminal justice process, the reality is that they may not be as clear or well-defined regarding questions survivors may have about the status of their rape kits. This can create confusion about one’s own rights to information, as well as make it challenging to decide on next steps. This is particularly true when attempting to obtain an update on the status of a rape kit. While it may make logical sense that the information about the kit belongs to the survivor, depending on the state in which the rape kit is located, a survivor may not actually have a legally established right to access information about the status or contents of the kit.
Survivors can continue with efforts to locate their kits by calling the police department or the prosecutors handling these cases. But it is important to keep in mind that this process can be difficult and might take some time. Working with an advocate may be helpful because advocates may have more insight on how to navigate the legal system, but unfortunately this does not guarantee that a survivor will be able to obtain an update.
This situation can be very discouraging and can leave one wondering if there is a possibility for justice. Additionally, with backlogged kits, the statue of limitations may have expired, which can make access to justice feel even further out of reach or even impossible. We respectfully acknowledge that what is currently offered by our justice system may not be enough to resolve the backlog and the related challenges that deeply impact each survivor, as well as the safety and well-being of the larger community. We also know that passionate leaders in the field are working collaboratively toward new and creative solutions for seeking justice on backlogged cases, even those on which the statute of limitations has expired. Options exist that can lead to a better future. That is why it is important for advocates, lawyers, policymakers and survivors alike to come together and continue to create change.