Join our project to understand - and end - the extent of the rape kit backlog

Help us hold your local police department accountable by exposing how they’re handling sexual assault evidence collection

Written by Vanessa Nason

Despite being violent, traumatic, and criminal, rape and sexual assault are rarely treated as such.

In a shameful statistic, out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will see no jail time

Image via RAINN.org

Perpetuating this is the fact that law enforcement across the country continually fails to adequately collect and analyze evidence.

To date, the Joyful Heart Foundation estimates over 175,000 sexual assault evidence collection kits sit untested in evidence rooms and crime labs across the country – at least from the 38 states for which this data is available. After filing a request with each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., we found that there is no consistency in evidence collection throughout the country.

The gaps in data have have very real consequences. When kits go untested, it is often impossible to connect the dots between serial perpetrators. In Detroit alone, for example, a recent effort to test every backlogged kit identified more than 770 potential serial rapists. When there isn’t a federal law in place mandating the testing of kits, and when we don’t even know how many are going untested, it is impossible to resolve the issue.

That’s where we’re stepping in.

Help us hold your local police department accountable by exposing how they’re handling sexual assault evidence collection. It is immoral that rape victims are being shamed, perpetrators are serving incredibly lenient sentences, and politicians are often dismissive. This happens with no other act of violence. Sexual assault is a crime. It’s time we start treating it as such.

Enter your local agency into the Google Form below, and MuckRock will submit a request for free on your behalf.


Image via EndTheBacklog.org