Wisconsin

Backlog Snapshot

Wisconsin
Untested Kits:

6,391*

Testing:

In Progress

Does Wisconsin...
Inventory untested rape kits?
Yes, a one-time inventory.
Test backlogged rape kits?
Yes, testing in progress.
Test newly collected rape kits?
Legislation pending.
Grant victims rights to notice and be informed?
No.
Track rape kits?
No tracking system exists.
Appropriate funding for rape kit reform?
No.

In 2014, the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office (AG) conducted a one-time audit and found 6,006 untested rape kits among the 81% of agencies that responded. In 2017, the AG set up a website to track progress in testing backlogged kits; as of October 2017, the website listed 6,391 untested rape kits uncovered to date. Wisconsin law does not require law enforcement agencies to count, track, or test rape kits.

In 2014, The Accountability Project issued an open records request to bring the number of untested kits in Milwaukee to light. Through this request, we uncovered a backlog of 2,655 untested kits (included in the 6,006 reported by the Attorney General) in Milwaukee. 

In 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) a total of $3,999,967 to test 2,500 kits, investigate and prosecute cases, and re-engage survivors. In 2016, the BJA awarded the DOJ $1,108,914. In 2017, the BJA awarded the DOJ an additional $2,000,000 to support law enforcement training, test remaining backlogged kits, and develop a statewide evidence management system to track kits going forward.

In 2017, Wisconsin legislators introduced multiple rape kit reform bills, which all failed to pass:

  • A.B. 404, which directs the Legislative Audit Bureau to inventory untested rape kits, assess how the number of untested kits has changed over time, and review the rape kit testing policies and procedures of the DOJ.
  • A.B. 405, which requires law enforcement agencies to report annually regarding the number of kits collected, submitted for testing, and not submitted; the dates of collection, submission, and testing of these kits; and the reasons for which kits were not submitted or not tested. These data must be reported to the DOJ, which will compile and issue an annual statewide audit report to the legislature.
  • A.B. 408, which requires law enforcement agencies to submit all rape kits to the lab within 30 days for storage, testing, or both. The bill also grants survivors of sexual assault the right to have their kits stored for 15 years or the duration of the sentence of the convicted perpetrator of the crime; the right to have their kits transported to the lab within 30 days of collection; and the right to receive oral and written notice of all of their rights at the hospital. 

In 2018, BJA awarded DOJ an additional $1,033,829 to sustain their work. 

In 2019, Wisconsin legislators introduced S.B. 200, which would require health care professionals to notify law enforcement within 24 hours of collecting a kit. If a survivor wants to report the crime and have their kit tested, law enforcement must take possession of the kit within 72 hours and send the kit to the crime lab within 14 days. If they do not want to report, the healthcare provider would be required to send the kit to a crime lab for storage within 72 hours of collection. The bill requires the lab to process the kit but no specific time frame is required. The bill also sets storage perids for rape kits: 50 years or until expiration of the statute of limitations or until end of assailant imprisonment or probation for tested kits and 10 years for unreported kits. It also requires law enforcement agencies to send the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) data about sexual assault kits collected and processed, and the DOJ to publicly report on agency compliance with this reporting rule.

TAKE ACTION TODAY TO BRING RAPE KIT REFORM TO WISCONSIN

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