For more than two years, MuckRock, through our Counting the Uncounted project, has been helping individuals learn more about the backlog of SAEC kits in their own towns. Hundreds of people have responded to the call to bring local accountability to the unprocessed kits sitting in or destroyed by their local law enforcement agencies. And submissions to our feedback form have helped to bring real attention and change.
Ernie Pyle, the legendary journalist and war correspondent who died in Japan at the end of World War II, had a typically complicated relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A 1951 letter to the Central Intelligence Agency from a former spymaster warned of Russian infiltration in North America’s northern territories. Despite being described by the CIA’s cover letter as discussing the Soviet threat to Alaska and Canada “in very general terms,” its information and warning were considered important enough to send to J. Edgar Hoover in a package marked SECRET, and it remained classified until late 2018 - 67 years after it was written.
Although our reporting on the rape kit backlog is often bleak, there is some good news - lawmakers in Alaska are taking a step in the right direction by adding $2.75 million to the budget for the testing of every backlogged kit.
Recently released documents show that the backlog of untested rape kits in Alaska’s capitol city, Juneau, is staggering. Out of the 283 sexual assault evidence kits collected since 2000, 206 still remain untested, while the status of three remains “unknown” - disturbing news for a state with a rate of sexual violence nearly three times the national average.