Across the country, the rape kit backlog is making headlines. Journalists are uncovering backlogs, jurisdictions are implementing reforms to track and test rape kits and citizens are taking action. In the Media Center, you'll find the latest information about the backlog, including: commentary from the ENDTHEBACKLOG staff and backlog reformers, first-person testimonials from those impacted by the backlog, an archive of news articles, op-eds, investigative reports, legislation and government publications we've identified, and more.
ENDTHEBACKLOGMarch 3, 2011
I recently had a chance to sit down with bestselling crime novelist, former Sex Crimes Unit chief prosecutor of the New York County District Attorney and staunch advocate for rape kit reform, Linda Fairstein. Despite her non-stop schedule around the March 1st paperback release of HELL GATE, Linda was able to provide me with a thoroughly fascinating account of what it was like to lead the New York County District Attorney Sex Crimes prosecution unit for 26 years, her well-informed thoughts on rape kit reform and insight into how she sits down to write her best-selling novels.
ENDTHEBACKLOGMarch 1, 2011
I recently spoke with Kimberly Hurst, the Executive Director of the Wayne County Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner’s (SAFE) Program, who told me about her work starting Detroit’s SAFE program and caring for victims of sexual assault.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 28, 2011
Charles Courtney, Jr., was arrested in Franklin County, Indiana in September 1996, for the knifepoint rape of his wife, Mary Jane, when she told him she wanted a divorce the night he returned from a trip on his job as a long-distance truck driver. Like defendants in many domestic violence cases, Courtney was offered a plea to a lesser charge of sexual battery. As such, his two-year sentence was far lighter than it would have been had he raped a stranger–a sad truth about many rapists whose victims are partners or acquaintances. That conviction earned the government the right to put Courtney’s genetic profile in the FBI’s convicted-offender databank. He was released from prison on January 4, 1998.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 23, 2011
From news sources national to local to campus-based, the backlog has been receiving a lot of coverage lately. A couple weeks ago, a Georgia high school student named Brittany emailed Joyful Heart to ask for an interview with Sarah Tofte, JHF’s Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships, for an article she was writing for her school newspaper, The Pitchfork.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 17, 2011
California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino has introduced legislation in the state government to track and report untested rape kits and set a time limit for labs to process them. From an article on patch.com:
The bill, AB 322…would mandate that rape kits used for DNA testing be sent by law enforcement agencies to a lab within 30 days, and be processed within six months. Agencies would also have to send regular reports on the number of unprocessed rape kits to the [California] Department of Justice that would be also be available to the public.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 9, 2011
The rape kit backlog has received quite a bit of press in the past weeks thanks to a great article by Brandi Grissom in The Texas Tribune. Grissom reports that about 16,000 kits are sitting untested in Houston. Over in San Antonio, the backlog is estimated to be between 5,200 and 11,500 kits, according to several CBS reports, while in Dallas, KDAF reported that officials estimated that the number of untested kits there could be as high as 10,000.
EndTheBacklogFebruary 7, 2011
As many of you have heard, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced this week that they have ended their “historic” rape kit backlog of 6,132 kits, resulting in at least 300 new arrests. This is a significant milestone in the work to reform rape kit testing in Los Angeles city.
EndTheBacklogJanuary 25, 2011
In 2010, the Joyful Heart Foundation‘s second issue of Reunion featured a story of a young girl whose big voice is matched only by her bigger heart. Ella Burnside was given an assignment from her English teacher: write about something in the world you want to change, and then do it. Ella wrote about ending sexual violence and domestic abuse, and then went about raising over $10,000 for Joyful Heart. She was in tenth grade.