To end the rape kit backlog in the United States and ensure that it never recurs, state and federal rape kit policies must change. Progress on rape kit reform is happening. Be a part of it.
- Write to your Members of Congress
- Write to your Governor
- Write to your State Senators
- Write to your State House Representative
Cities and states are going into their storage facilities and counting their rape kits to assess whether they have a backlog. Jurisdictions with backlogs are finding the resources to test their rape kits, changing their policies to prevent future backlogs, and devoting the resources necessary to fully investigate all leads from rape kit testing. State legislatures are introducing and enacting laws that require statewide tracking and testing of rape kits. The federal government is offering leadership, resources and research to fix the problem, making the reduction and elimination of the nationwide rape kit backlog a priority.
Last year, the federal government created a new $41 million grant program to address the rape kit backlog. This initiative is now providing local communities the resources to test backlogged kits in their police storage facilities, create multi-disciplinary teams to investigate and prosecute cases connected to the backlog, and address the need for victim notification and re-engagement with the criminal justice system.
Unfortunately, there is much work left to be done. As states and local jurisdictions enact legislation and policies to reform law enforcement practices around rape kit testing, the need for funding to implement a multi-disciplinary response will increase. These laws and policies 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 in addition to their current cases.
Please join us in thanking your members of Congress for renewing their commitment to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits across the country by providing funds in Fiscal Year 2016 to allow even more jurisdictions to address their rape kit backlogs, apprehend perpetrators, and bring an opportunity for justice to survivors. In December 2015, congressional leaders introduced a spending bill that provides $45 million for this program within the Department of Justice, which includes an additional $4 million thanks to an amendment by Representatives Steve Cohen and Carolyn Maloney. The bill was signed into law by President Obama in December 2015.
Much of the progress on rape kit reform is happening at the state level. Governors, state senators and representatives across the country are working to enact legislation and implement policies and practices that require tracking and testing of rape kits, as well as victim notification laws. Make sure your state is doing all it can do to address the problem of untested rape kits.
Your state officials still need to hear your voice. Write to them and urge them to end the backlog. Get started below: