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.
Where is the nation in processing its backlogged sexual assault evidence collection kits? By simply filling out a form, you can help us find out, and bring home accountability for survivors of sexual violence.
Until recently, police in Columbus, Ohio couldn’t differentiate between rape kits and shopping carts
A public records request with the Columbus Police Department revealed that until a year ago, the department tagged rape kits in evidence as “other,” a designation also used for shopping carts and cell phones.
For the last year, we’ve been requesting data surrounding the national backlog of untested sexual assault evidence. While we still don’t know the actual number- so far more than 225,000 rape kits have been found sitting on evidence collection shelves and in hospitals from coast to coast - we have a greater understanding of the many hurdles victims and law enforcement face. There are many reasons rape kits go untested, and the lack of forensic funding continues to exacerbate the problem.
The care rape victims receive is entirely dependent on where the crime occurred. Good sexual assault response policies are comprised of a number of initiatives, including (but not limited to) specific officer training, a victim-centered approach, access to victim advocates, guidelines for submitting kits to labs, and victim notification. Based on what we’ve seen in our reporting so far, we’ve rounded up a list of the five best - and the five worst - sexual assault response policies across the country.