Does Pennsylvania law require...
An Audit of Untested Rape Kits?
Tracking of Rape Kits?
Testing of all backlogged rape kits?
Testing of all rape kits in the future?
Victims to be notified of the status of their cases?
Funding for testing kits?
The extent of the untested rape kit backlog in Pennsylvania is unknown. However, in 2015, a preliminary audit found more than 3,044 untested kits statewide. In September 2016, the Pennsylvania Auditor General released a report highlighting challenges with the audit, including low participation rates from local law enforcement agencies. Pennsylvania law does not require law enforcement agencies to track rape kits.
In 2014, The Accountability Project issued an open records request to bring the number of untested kits in Philadelphia to light. Through this request, we uncovered that Philadelphia currently has a policy of testing all rape kits.
In 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office awarded the Philadelphia Police Department $419,788 to test 600 previously unprocessed rape kits. The Allegheny County Office Medical Examiner’s Office also received $254,437 to test 400 kits.
In 2015, Pennsylvania enacted a law requiring hospitals to notify local law enforcement of rape kits collected as soon as is practical; law enforcement to collect rape kits from health care providers within 72 hours of receiving notice; kits to be submitted to a laboratory within 15 days; and the lab to complete testing within six months of receipt. The law required law enforcement agencies to report the number of untested kits in their inventories to the Department of Health within six months, required law enforcement to submit these untested kits to the lab within one year of reporting, and required the lab to complete testing of backlog kits within three years of receipt. Law enforcement must report annually on untested kits in their inventory. The law improves victim notification practices by ensuring survivors have the right to be informed when their evidence is submitted for testing, to be notified when a DNA sample is entered into the DNA database, and to be notified of a match to an offender.
In 2017, Pennsylvania legislators introduced a resolution directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study how many rape kits remain untested across the state and evaluate compliance with the existing testing law.
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