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70,000 Rape Kits are Untested in the United States

In a story published yesterday, USA Today worked with journalists from 75 newspapers to take inventory of untested rape kits around the country—finding more than 70,000 untested, and possibly thousands more. Their comprehensive feature includes anecdotes from rape survivors, interviews with law enforcement, and even a search engine to see how many untested rape kits there are in your county’s police department. Yet, as they state, there is still more questioning and corresponding activism to be done. 

The article makes important points, especially about the significance of logging DNA info of perpetrators: “Although uploading offenders' DNA information into state and national databases is proven to identify serial predators who move across jurisdictions, police often treat rape kits as if the evidence is relevant only to the single assault with which it is associated.”

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They cite many examples when testing a rape kit led to finding the offender in multiple assaults; as we know, most rapists are serial rapists. As Slate reported in May 2014: “ …Only about 6 percent of the men surveyed had attempted or successfully raped someone. While some of them only tried once, most of the rapists were repeat offenders, with each committing an average of 5.8 rapes apiece.” Just one example of this is seen in the stats from Cleveland, Ohio: “Testing by Cleveland-area prosecutors linked more than 200 alleged serial rapists to 600 assaults.”

You can use this interactive feature on the USA Today site to see how many rape kits are untested in your local police department

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One of the most frustrating lessons of this search is that the federal government has made decent strides to get more rape kits tested, but to no avail. Although the funding is there (for upwards of 1 million rape kits), there still isn’t national protocol for testing. And the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act hasn’t made any progress since it was passed in Congress in 2013. “The law set up grants to help local police pay for inventories and testing”—which sounds like a pretty good opportunity for municipalities to investigate their backlog, yet—“no grants have been awarded. A Justice Department steering committee met only once, in March 2014.”

The article noted that before it was even published yesterday, the investigations around the country raised questions. Some police departments stepped up, and community members and others in the media echoed the need for further investigation. There’s a good chance this start could lead to some progress. 

Images via Carolyn Cole and USA Today 

Read more on Bust.com

Detroit Has Thousands Of Rape Kits It Can't Process- Or Prosecute

Detroit Tested Thousands Of Backlogged Rape Kits, And The Results Are ASTOUNDING

Thousands Of Abandoned Rape Kits Are Finally Getting Tested

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