November 7, 2013 – Every year, thousands of individuals report their rape to the police. Many are asked to have a rape kit collected, a process that can take four to six hours to complete. And yet, hundreds of thousands of times, a decision is made not to process the evidence. Even when law enforcement does send a kit to the crime lab for testing, it can sit for months, and in some cases years, before being tested.
The nationwide backlog of untested rape kits allows rapists to get away with their crimes and, in many cases, to rape again. We do not know the exact size of the backlog because few jurisdictions count or track their untested kits, but the federal government estimates that there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in police and crime lab storage facilities throughout the United States.
Today, the Joyful Heart Foundation is proud to share the new ENDTHEBACKLOG.org, our website dedicated to shining a light on and ending the rape kit backlog nationwide.
ENDTHEBACKLOG.org includes an interactive map displaying everything we know and do not know about where the backlog exists, an extensive media and resource archive of news and reporting about the backlog from across the country, an integrated blog with updates and commentary about the backlog and more.
With the new ENDTHEBACKLOG.org, the Joyful Heart Foundation will continue to raise awareness about the backlog and share vital information about what jurisdictions and our partners are doing to end it, all with the aim of improving our collective response to sexual violence. Four states have implemented comprehensive rape kit reforms, investigative reports have uncovered backlogs in cities across the country and officials have made the number of untested kits in their communities publicly known. We are beginning to see a clearer national picture of the rape kit backlog. We are seeing the immense value that rape kit testing brings.
“The rape kit backlog is one of the most shocking demonstrations of how we regard the crime of sexual assault in our society. Rape kit testing can bring justice, often an integral part of a survivor’s healing, and it is vital in keeping rapists off the streets,” said Mariska Hargitay, President & Founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation. “We must eliminate this backlog. We must give survivors the justice they deserve. We must hold perpetrators accountable. The stakes are simply too high.”