Joyful Heart Foundation Applauds Passage of Florida Bill to Implement Comprehensive Rape Kit Reform

For Immediate Release: March 4, 2016
Contact: Melissa Schwartz, media@endthebacklog.org 

NEW YORK – The Joyful Heart Foundation, a leader in the effort to provide cities and states with the resources they need to address their backlog of rape kits, this week applauded the passage of Florida SB 636, which takes meaningful steps to address the backlog ofuntested rape kits in the state.

DNA evidence is an invaluable investigative tool. When tested, rape kit evidence can identify an unknown assailant, confirm the presence of a known suspect, affirm the survivor's account of the atack, connect the suspect to other crime scenes, and exonerate the wrongly convicted.

Yet too often the decision is made not to test these kits. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities across the country. We don't yet know the true extent of the backlog in Florida. But we are soon to find out.

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 our advocacy partners who fought for the passage of Florida SB 636, to provide survivors of sexual assault with the justice they deserve. There is no excuse for complacency on the processing of rape kit evidence – and we join experts in calling for the mandatory submission and testing of every rape kit booked into evidence and connected to a reported sexual assault.

"Every untested kit represents a missed opportunity to bring justice and healing to a survivor and increased safety to a community. 

"We stand with every survivor who has taken the courageous step of reporting the crime to the police and endured an invasive examination in search of DNA evidence left behind by the attacker.

"Florida has now joined the small number of states that have passed laws requiring sexual assault kit audits or some type of mandatory submission guidelines. These laws will expand what we know about the true extent of the number of untested rape kits and will result in thousands of cases for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute.

"They will result in long overdue justice.

"Joyful Heart will continue to advocate for federal funds to help states implement comprehensive reform, and stands ready to provide assistance to any community working to address its untested kit backlog."

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

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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

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